The second week of the 2011 Legislative session was highlighted with the budget address of Gov. Daugaard. I'm quite sure that you have heard at least part of his budget proposals already.
The most significant item was a 10 percent shift of education responsibilities to our local school districts. This amount is $60 million across our state. To achieve this amount, 1,500 teachers or 3,000 education support staff or deletion of services will have to be terminated. This will have a tremendous detrimental effect on our school children.
Here is my understanding of our financial situation in South Dakota: As Daugaard stated, we have $107 million in reserve funds. However, we also have another $688 million in reserves and trust funds. The big number is that we have another $1 billion in our state cash flow account. This state budget deficit that we have did not start with the recession; it started seven years ago and has increased annually since. Finally we are at least recognizing that there is a deficit.
A positive on Thursday afternoon, after the Legislature adjourned for the day, was an excellent program on concussions. We are all becoming more aware of these injuries and will continue to educate ourselves and others on the importance of recognizing when an athlete is injured. One main point to emphasize is that the athlete will not want to come out of the game. The recognition of the injury must come from a teammate, official or coach. Re-entry into the contest should not be allowed. A second blow to the head is past dangerous. If in doubt, pull them out. A bill addressing this issue will be introduced this session.
On Jan. 29, I will be holding meetings in Wakonda, Vermillion, Hurley and Parker. I urge you to attend one of them. I need to know your views. Educators, school administrators, health service personnel, state employees: Your livelihood is on the line.