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By: Kristi Noem, Governor - 12/09/2019

On Dec. 3, I proposed my budget to the legislature for Fiscal Year 2021. Just like many folks are experiencing, money is tight for the State this year. But just as South Dakotans always do, we're finding a way to be successful with the resources at our disposal. My proposed budget is structurally balanced, it doesn't raise taxes, and it saves money for the future. It also invests in key areas that will set us up for long-term growth.

One of my top priorities is keeping South Dakotans safe. One component of that is equipping law enforcement and first responders with the tools they need to protect our communities. In 2003, we created the state radio system -- a single, uniform communications system for first responders in every corner of the state. But the current system needs an update. My budget recommends $5.1 million in one-time funds that will ensure a smooth transition to the new system so there are no gaps in protecting South Dakota families.

I also remain committed to expanding internet access across the state. Without access to high-speed internet, folks can't use the newest technology on their farms. They can't pursue higher education because of uploading and downloading speeds. They can't start online businesses.

Last year, I dedicated $5 million that leveraged more than $11.4 million in direct project costs to increase connection across the state. In addition to that, because the state had a broadband plan in place, applicants for the federal Reconnect dollars scored extra points. Those awards are just starting to come in, but those dollars should bring the investment in South Dakota up to nearly $25 million. We must do more to bring our communities into the 21st century, though, so my budget proposes another $5 million to this project.

We must also invest in our universities and training programs. Eleven of USD's fastest-growing majors are in the School of Health Sciences, representing a significant opportunity for future growth in our state. I'm investing $5 million dollars for the construction of a new School of Health Sciences Building at USD, as well as $396,000 for the Cyber Cync Incubator at Dakota State University. These investments will spur economic development -- in turn, providing greater opportunities for South Dakota families and helping keep top talent in our state.

And, of course, we're working toward storm recovery. My budget includes $9.9 million to partner with local governments to provide disaster relief and resources for mitigating future disasters. Starting with the 2019 disasters, the State will offer loans to cities, counties, townships, and tribes from the Emergency and Disaster Fund. We will continue to pay for 10 percent of the cost of the disasters but will now offer loans for the other 90 percent. In addition to providing loans from the Emergency and Disaster Fund for the local share of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, the local match requirement will be lowered from 25 percent to 15 percent to allow local governments to take full advantage of these programs. We must rebuild damaged communities, build stronger communities for the future, and ensure long-term resilience so our families can thrive.

There's much more I could write about... added funding tied to increased K-12 enrollment, $3.7 million for meth treatment and enforcement, a formula adjustment that is projected to result in nearly $14 million for special education, added dollars to meet the increased need of training more foster parents and parents looking to adopt.... All in service of South Dakota families.

It's been a difficult year, yes, but we have tremendous opportunity before us. The growth of our current industries and the attraction of new ones will drive opportunity. Expanding on some already successful initiatives will drive opportunity. And laying the foundation to enhance our competitiveness with respect to other states will help ensure our top talent stays in South Dakota -- creating more opportunity for years to come.

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