Governor Noem outlines legislative priorities in 2019
PIERRE S.D. – The state legislative session has kicked off in the Capitol. Newly-sworn in Governor Kristi Noem addressed a joint session of the House and the Senate, outlining her vision for the state and her administration.
Governor Kristi Noem addressed the same body in which she kicked off her own political career. Just four days into her term, Noem laid out her goals for the state. She said fiscal responsibility will be the foundation of her administration. She repeated her campaign promises and pitched some new ideas.
First, Noem wants to expand rural broadband and 5-G cell service to give people access to education and jobs. She proposed funding it through public-private partnerships.
“I know we can find a way to bridge our own challenges and secure broadband for rural South Dakota’s next generation and beyond,” Noem said.
She then talked about economic development in the state, mentioning the importance of the B-21 Bomber program at Ellsworth Air Force Base. She said the state needs to support the base and its $300 million annual economic impact.
“Ensuring Box Elder, Rapid City, and the Black Hills region are equipped to capitalize on Ellsworth’s rapid expansion must be a priority for us all,” she said.
Noem also called for the state to crack down on the state’s meth epidemic and to create a state fund for education and prevention.
“We need to do more to educate our young people about the effects of meth and give them strategies to avoid it,” she said.
Workforce development was also at the forefront of her speech. She plans to grow internship and apprenticeship programs, encouraging young people to fill the state’s nearly 16,000 vacant jobs.
“I would like our high schools to join together each year to hold a ‘week of work.'” Noem said. “This will be a special week when every high school student will get out of the classroom to experience a day on the job.
Noem’s vision for the state drew applause from many.
“I’m just excited, I think it’s going to be a good eight years or four years, we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” said Representative Tim Goodwin. “Its going to be a good session.”
But Democratic leadership says she could had done more to mention the state’s Native Americans.
“That wasn’t enough,” Democratic Senate Leader Troy Heinert said. “We have some serious issues on our reservations. We have some tribal leaders who are willing to come to table and talk about what we can do to help tribal people.”
As Noem concluded, she said she was looking forward to serving the state.
“I look forward to working with South Dakota leaders, in governments and in the private sector, to improve our state for today, and for the next generation,” Noem said.
Noem said she’s ready to dig into the state’s issues, including drafting a budget for the next fiscal year. She said we can expect to see her budget recommendations in the coming weeks.