In this scripted release from Governor Noems’s office, this is verbatim what she discussed during the budget speech.
Something pretty amazing has happened in South Dakota over the past couple of years. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of new residents to our state. They come here for many reasons, but the main ones are because we respect freedom, our taxes are low, and we cut red tape so people and businesses can be successful.
We haven’t shut down our economy, so it’s strong. So strong, in fact, that we have about 28,000 jobs open – but not enough trained people to fill them. There are only 800 South Dakotas on continuous jobless claims, making us the top 5 in the country for the lowest unemployment rate. If we want our businesses to stay in South Dakota – and grow in South Dakota – we need skilled workers who can fill those jobs.
But there is a problem with new people coming to South Dakota for these jobs. A tight housing market is preventing them from finding accommodation. It is not for the government to solve this problem. Instead, we need to find ways to help the free market solve this problem.
Here’s how we’re going to do it: Today, I’m announcing a state investment of $ 200 million in workforce housing subsidies. $ 150 million will be one-time general state funds. An additional $ 50 million in federal funds will be invested in sewer infrastructure related to these workforce housing projects. These dollars will be matched by local communities and developers to make sure everyone works together in partnership: 1/3 developers, 1/3 municipalities and 1/3 state. This is a total investment of $ 600 million in workforce housing.
With this investment in housing, we will help free our tight real estate market. We will provide opportunities for more freedom-loving Americans to settle in South Dakota. And we will also welcome companies that want to settle here.
2. Wage increases linked to inflation
We cannot invest in our workforce without supporting the hard workers we already have here. This includes our teachers. It includes state officials. And that includes the healthcare providers who take care of the rest of us.
But like all Americans, they are suffering under the pressure of horribly high inflation resulting from the policies of the Biden administration. Today, I am announcing my recommendation for a 6% salary increase for civil servants; a 6% increase in state aid to education; and a 6% increase for our health care providers.
Since taking office, our state has faced unprecedented challenges. In 2019, we faced historic flooding that placed 63 of our 66 counties in federal disaster. 2020 has brought the COVID pandemic, among countless other challenges. I think we can all agree that our healthcare and frontline workers deserve all of our support for their dedicated service over the past two years. The increase in supplier funding should go directly to these frontline workers. And our government employees took charge, dramatically increased their caseloads, and continued to provide our constituents with the best possible service.
The same can be said of educators. They adapt to everyday challenges. Our teachers work with each student in a unique way to prepare them for the future. School districts should reinvest this 6% increase directly into our teachers and other district staff.
This 6% increase is unprecedented, but also necessary. Many of these positions in these three areas do not keep pace with their counterparts in the private sector or in other states. They deserve our support – let’s give it to them.
3. Child care
Housing today is a big piece of the workforce puzzle. But there is another challenge that we must face. It is a problem that affects working families, single mothers and single fathers. That problem is child care. For families struggling to make ends meet, daycare is the only way to make sure they can work to put food on the table.
The pandemic has resulted in a decrease in the number of registered child care centers in the state. Washington has a plan that will make this problem worse. It’s more the same from big government: more rights and endless government programs that do more harm than good.
Let’s do something better in South Dakota. We already have some great examples to turn to. I want to recognize the work of nonprofit groups like Compassion Child Care and the Boys and Girls Clubs. These groups provide low-cost, affordable child care options for young children and after-school programs for older youth.
Through the use of federal funds, the Department of Social Services will use $ 100 million to provide start-up grants and one-time costs for new child care centers. This will allow high quality child care centers to open and expand across the state. And it will help existing registered installations to stay open.
We need to study the barriers facing child care centers. We will provide resources to employers who wish to open child care centers for their employees. And we will fund scholarships to train qualified educators.
I know parents want the best for their children. But the answer is not that government bureaucrats take care of their children. Let’s strengthen our existing child care centers, help new providers enter the industry, and put more talented child care professionals in the field.
4. Vocational training
More vocational training is needed at all levels as we seek to increase our competitiveness with other states. It is also important for our children and grandchildren, who will be looking for new opportunities in the labor market. I am proud to announce today something truly transformative for our state. I propose that we invest $ 30 million to facilitate new cybersecurity training at Dakota State University.
Cyber ââsecurity is an emerging and cutting edge industry. But companies go where the talent is. Let’s train South Dakotas in cybersecurity. Let’s give these companies a reason to locate in our state. And let’s give our graduates the skills they need to compete for six-figure salaries at cybersecurity companies right here in South Dakota.
I also recommend an additional $ 17 million to improve the workforce training capacity in our technical colleges. These targeted projects will increase the training of nurses, farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. Now, not all of the proposals in this budget come at a significant price. In many cases, we are able to promote low cost programs that have a big impact on small communities.
For those looking to start a new business or business at the University of South Dakota, I am proud to announce support for the Coyote Business Consulting program. This dual-purpose program connects small business owners with business students who provide marketing and other services under faculty direction. This program provides these services free of charge to small businesses. It also provides students with valuable work experience that they can take with them into the job market.
Additionally, to meet the needs of our healthcare industry, I recommend that we seek federal approval to fund construction projects at Northern State University and Black Hills State University. Both schools are looking to expand their nursing programs. The Northern State project would fund facilities for a partnership with the Accelerated Nursing Program at South Dakota State University.
5. Tourism / Workforce Marketing
One effective way to attract people to our state is to market what our state has to offer. This will help attract the visitors we love and the talented workforce we need.
South Dakota is one of America’s best-kept secrets. But the word is spreading. Part of the reason our state is in such a strong fiscal position today is that we have benefited from an increase in tourism. It has been a boon to businesses. He created new jobs. And that has given us the resources to make the investments we are discussing today. We need to tell the story of our state now to facilitate workforce development.
Our team at the Ministry of Tourism is the best. They’ve won award after award for their marketing efforts, and we’re going to empower them to continue delivering for South Dakota. I recommend that we invest $ 35 million in marketing efforts, which would go through the Department of Tourism.
These efforts will include traditional tourism campaigns. We will promote our local communities, Native American tourism and agritourism. We will intensify our marketing efforts to highlight South Dakota’s hunting and fishing opportunities. We will also provide grants to local destination marketing organizations. And on top of all this, we will also be increasing our workforce marketing efforts.
The primary workforce need in our state is for health care practitioners. We recently partnered with our state health systems to recruit nurses to our state. And we will continue to do the same in other areas. The law enforcement recruitment plan that we implemented has borne fruit. Let’s continue this momentum in other careers and industries.
6. Healthy families
We cannot have a strong workforce if we don’t have strong, healthy families.
I am proud to report that our Bright Start program has been a resounding success serving eligible mothers. That is why I recommend funding for this statewide program. Bright Start helps mothers in need by bringing nurses to their homes during the first years of a child’s life after the birth of a child. You all know I’m pro-life. Too often pro-lifers are falsely criticized for not caring about mothers and their children after the child is born. As we move closer and closer to our goal of protecting every unborn child, our pro-life goal should include programs like Bright Start that help families and mothers be successful.
These nurses teach skills that are essential in caring for a child, as well as important developmental stages in the early years. Bright Start will help more families get started on the right track, now. Every child’s life matters. And we need to protect those lives in a smart way. Bright Start accomplishes this.