The 86th South Dakota Legislative Session has drawn to a close. The session saw a great deal of hard work by legislators, staffers, interns, and pages. We all worked together to deliver results for our state through legislation aimed at creating jobs and fixing the structural deficit, without raising taxes. Armed with new job-promoting measures and a strong, healthy budget, South Dakota is poised to grow our way into a future full of promise.
We entirely eliminated the $127 million structural deficit this year. This may be among the most difficult challenges that I will face as governor. Still, with support from the Legislature, we met this challenge and overcame it. It would have been easier to raise taxes, to spend emergency funds, or to continue cuts year after year. Each of these methods would have encouraged the very problems that caused our structural deficit � slowing economic growth and overspending. Instead, the Legislature acted on the principles for which they were elected. They embraced what we all know to be true: We cannot spend money we don�t have.
South Dakota is a stronger state because we have balanced our budget. No longer will South Dakota be saddled by a large structural deficit. No longer will the Legislature be focused on budget cuts, pay freezes and fee increases. No longer will lawmakers need to explain why we have been spending more than our ongoing revenue. Because of the work done during this year�s session, our fiscal house is in order, and we can now look forward to a brighter future.
South Dakota�s citizen legislators are owed a debt of gratitude for their work this year. Our legislators are farmers, teachers, small business owners, and nurses. They come from all walks and occupations, and for two months every winter they leave their homes, their jobs, and their families and come to Pierre to share unique ideas and perspectives. They represent us in the truest sense. The work they do is not always glamorous, but it is important. Thanks to all legislators for the service given during this session. They should take pride in a job well done. I look forward to next year�s legislative session with optimism.