Criminal justice reforms stole the focus of South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State Address Tuesday afternoon.
During the beginning of his speech, Daugaard reflected on the budget cuts the legislature made to balance the state budget. Daugaard said because of the measures taken during his first year the state is in a position to spend money, while others are looking to make cuts.
Good stewardship is what we did two years ago, and I will continue to support a balanced budget, Daugaard said in his speech.
Daugaard also praised the South Dakota WINS program, which was proposed last year. Daugaard said WINS has increased development of jobs for machinists and tech jobs that are in demand. The governor also praised several South Dakota companies that increased and filled hundreds of jobs in 2012.
The governor also hinted at future oil investments for northwest South Dakota, and he encouraged partnership with North Dakota to support their oil venture.
This was Daugaard's third State of the State Address. The two prior addresses sparked controversy over the amount of spending cuts he proposed and his education initiative, which voters voted down in the 2012 general election.
This year, Daugaard proposed reforming policies regarding the state's criminal justice system. Daugaard said South Dakota locks up five times more people than Minnesota and 75 percent more people than North Dakota, which is causing great costs to the state.
Daugaard said if South Dakota's criminal justice policies are not changed the state's prisons will grow by 900 inmates in the next decade.
Better public safety doesn't mean locking more people up. It suggests we need to lower crime rate not build more prisons, Daugaard said in his speech.
The Governor also said the state has fewer drug courts than any other state in the country. The governor laid out his proposal which focuses resources on evidence-based practices that would help rehabilitate nonviolent crimes offenders rather than simply incarcerating them.
The initiative is expected to lower crime rates, hold offenders more accountable, and receive better returns to state judicial investments. The initiative features 18 points but Daugaard only discussed a few.
These recommendations are not about getting "soft" on crime but getting "smart" on crime, Daugaard said. He said the recommendations would save the state $200 million.
Some citizens anticipated the governor may discuss education, due to the amount of extra money the state has acquired.
"If that is true why is school funding so inadequate," perilee36 tweeted when Daugaard discussed how South Dakota's economy is in a good state.
"No education reform proposal? This lobbyist thinks we are in a much better place than last year #SDleg Now, let's fund schools," SandraMWaltman tweeted toward the end of the governor's speech.
Daugaard's address marked the start of the 2013 Legislative Session. KSFY News Reporter Mark Roper is in Pierre and will have reaction to the governor's address from lawmakers tonight on KSFY News.
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