Governor Kristi Noem delivers State of the State address
Noem’s third budget address highlighted a variety of conservative intiatives she supports, but also expanded upon her desire to continue to bring people to the Rushmore State.
PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Governor Kristi Noem delivered her third ever State of the State address, which focused largely on South Dakota families, while highlighting her key legislative goals heading into the 2021 legislative session.
Noem gave the address a day after suddenly canceling a press conference in Pierre, where she intended to announce the arrival of a new CJ Foods facility in Sioux Falls. Noem mentioned the arrival of CJ Foods during her speech.
Addressing 2020, Noem acknowledged it was a tough year. “The people of South Dakota deserve all the credit” when it comes to COVID-19 response, Noem said. South Dakota is leading in vaccination, despite having a high death rate and cases per capita. Noem touted the vaccine rollout.
“As we look towards the year of ahead... I am also excited to report there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to COVID-19,” said Noem. “South Dakota is leading the nation when it comes to dispersing the vaccine. As of today, tens of thousands across the state have already received their first dose of the vaccine.”
As of Tuesday, COVID-19 has claimed 1,585 lives in South Dakota. The state has been booming economically, one reason being the $1.25 billion of COVID-19 aid Congress allotted South Dakota. Noem has already expressed her desire for much of that money to be spent largely on various building and infrastructure improvements across the state.
Telehealth services were expanded as the state addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. South Dakota clinics made an effort to provide online care for patients. Noem said people used tech services “more than 70,000 times in South Dakota’s Medicaid program” since March. Noem said she wants to see legislation passed that would make telehealth access permanent, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Noem asked lawmakers to ban abortion for children based on the grounds they have Down Syndrome. Abortion in South Dakota, compared to the rest of the United States, is heavily restricted. There is only one clinic performing them in the state, and a variety of restrictions already in place.
“I share this because even today, in 2021, some European countries, like Iceland and Denmark, are on pace to virtually eliminate children with Down syndrome,” Noem said. “They do this one way and one way only: through abortion.”
To teach South Dakota K-12 students more critical thinking, debate, and civic engagement skills, she wants to introduce legislation that will create instructional materials to teach South Dakota students on America’s founding, U.S. South Dakota history. Noem says that her administration has been tasked with “creating instructional materials and classroom resources on America’s founding, our nation’s history, and the state’s history.”
“We must also do a better job educating teachers on these three subjects,” Noem said. “Through all of this, our common mission and key objective needs to be explaining why the United States of America is the most special nation in the history of the world.”
This was met with one of the loudest standing ovations of the day.
Noem didn’t detail whether she wants to add or remove items from the current curriculum.
In other education news, South Dakota’s first needs-based scholarship was announced last week. With funding from Denny Sanford and PREMIER, who pledged $100 million. Noem asked legislatures for a one-time $50 million allocation.
“The endowment for this critical scholarship fund needs $200 million to be self-sustaining into the future,” Noem said.
Highlighting one of the intiatives she supported during last years State of the State and the Budget address a few weeks ago, Noem signaled her support for expanding rural broadband access. According to her, 135,000 South Dakotans don’t have high-speed broadband.
Noem said the state is making a $100 million investment and another $100 million of industry funding and federal grants to connect rural communities to the internet. She also said she expects a variety of private sector investments, as people come to small town South Dakota for “big city salaries.”
According to the legislative calendar, Noem will file her executive orders are filed Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.
The State of the Judiciary will be delivered by Chief Justice Steven Jensen on Wednesday, and the State of the Tribes address will take place Thursday.
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