Children benefit most from budget

Children benefit most from budget South Dakota's children will benefit the most from Governor Janklow's proposed budget for state government.

If legislators approve it, Janklow's proposal for the fiscal year 2000 budget will provide needed health insurance for 3,000 more children, provide more money per school student, and continue wiring schools for technology.

"While some parts of our economy are doing well, the ag economy is in extremely tough times," Janklow said. "The budget holds the line on a lot of things, and I'm making children the priority for the limited growth we'll see in the next year."

In his speech to legislators, Janklow said he's allocating $10 million in state and federal funds to buy health insurance for 9,000 children under the age of 18. That's a 50 percent increase from the number currently covered.

"This is the second year of the Children's Health Insurance Program, and we're expanding it to cover more children who need our help," Janklow said. "These kids shouldn't have to be threatened with health problems because their parents simply can't afford health insurance."

The overwhelming majority of work has been done in Janklow's program to wire K-12 schools for technology, but his budget has $3.8 million allocated to the program for more schools.

"We've wired our K-12 schools better, faster and at less expense than any other state in the nation. Now we're going to do the same for our universities and tech schools, the private schools and public libraries," Janklow said.

Janklow also said he will ask the Legislature's Interim Appropriations Committee to spend the estimated $8.5 million unused state aid to education in the current fiscal year's budget to provide the next step in technology for the state's K-12 schools.

"We have to keep building a world-class infrastructure in our schools, so I want to use the $8.5 million to boost technology in the schools," he said.

Local schools will also expand the number of safer homes for kids who are in danger because of bad home environments.

"I'm adding 90 more foster care and group residential slots," Janklow said. "It's terrible, but some kids are in danger because of their home. Their parents are just flat out failing and those kids need a safe and nurturing home to succeed in life."

Janklow's proposed budget contains an additional $10 million to complete paying for the additional 5 percent property tax relief Janklow won approval for last year.

"That 25 percent means we'll be providing $102 million in property tax relief. Our efforts over the last three years amounts to a cumulative savings of $309 million to South Dakota taxpayers," Janklow said.

He also said reaching 30 percent property tax relief is still a priority.

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