Gov. Janklow delivers budget address

Gov. Janklow delivers budget address Gov. Bill Janklow told state lawmakers Dec. 7 that investing in children and their families will be his top priority for South Dakota during his remaining time in office.

"I'm here to talk about a crop today, the most important crop we ever have, and that's the kids we raise," Janklow said in remarks opening the governor's annual budget speech to the state Legislature.

He announced a menu of new programs that will focus on helping parents get their babies and young children off to the right start. The plan includes:

* At-home visits by community nurses to help expectant mothers and new parents;

* Medical screenings for all children before age 3 to see whether they have development or health problems that need to be addressed;

* Welcome packets for newborns that will include music, a parenting video, an "ages and stages guide" on children's normal development and other information;

* More emphasis on helping parents get their children properly immunized;

* Using public broadcasting to present South Dakotans with more information on parenting and children's development; and

* Looking for ways to more effectively use the approximately $134.5 million that now is spent by state government on 67 different programs.

"Not all kids are born into equal circumstances in life, but we ought to do as much as we can as a society and as a government to help kids get an equal chance to get a good start," Janklow said. "We can head off a lot of problems when they're literally still in their infancy, and that can make a powerful difference in the long run."

The fiscal 2001 budget proposal that Janklow recommended to legislators contains no state tax increases, holds the line on state government growth with a net increase of only five full-time positions statewide and calls for the final $20 million installment of the Janklow's $120 million tax relief program for property owners.

"The budget I'm proposing today is really about three main things," Janklow said. "It's about keeping promises � promises to our taxpayers, promises to our children and promises to our elderly and disabled.

"I'm recommending that we fulfill the promise we made five years and deliver the final five percent for 30 percent property-tax relief to homeowners, farmers and ranchers. I'm recommending that we place far greater emphasis on children, especially the zero to three age group. And I'm recommending that we spend the money necessary to protect and maintain the same services to help our elderly and disabled who need the government's help," Janklow said.

Other highlights of Janklow's budget proposal:

* $11 million in additional funding for K-12 schools, plus $1 million for a statewide testing program for students;

* Expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover 1,173 more children whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford health care coverage on their own because of their income;

* Spending more to protect society, including special salary packages for the South Dakota Highway Patrol and for Department of Corrections employees; and

* A general three percent pay raise for state employees, plus an additional increase of up to 2.5 percent for employees who fall below the mid-point of their pay scale.

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