The 2014 legislative session kicked off in Pierre today and part of the opening day ceremonies included Governor Daugaard's proclamation that we, as a state, need to do more to recognize our 75,000 veterans. He declared today as "Operation Reaching All Veterans Day" in South Dakota. The project aims to ensure veterans and their families are aware of the programs and services available to them.
Governor Daugaard also gave his State of the State address today. He focused largely on South Dakota's success but he says there's also room for improvement.
There were positive responses from both Republicans and Democrats. Some commented on the length of the speech and even the Governor himself joked about how many words there were in his nearly hour long speech. But for some state leaders -- there were a few words missing.
No matter which side of the aisle they stood -- many of South Dakota's state leaders liked what they heard from Governor Daugaard.
Rep. Bernie Hunhoff/ (D) Yankton: "I'm really happy that he wants to focus on workforce development. That's something that we've been interested in in a long time on the Democratic side of the aisle, call it what you want, workforce development, we call it youth development. Trying to invest in people, people skills, making them better prepared for the workplace, better prepared to succeed in life."
Rep. Paula Hawks/ (D) Hartford: "I think it was a great message, I think he's got some great plans in the hopper, I think we're on the right track."
Rep. Steve Hickey/ (R) Sioux Falls: "It was a great speech, a lot of positives in it, it was long but there was a lot to celebrate, and so I think the first 10 minutes were just great things that were going on in our state."
Rep. Don Haggar/(R) Sioux Falls: "I was pleased with it generally,speaking, obviously we live in a great state, here in South Dakota it's well run, well managed, and low unemployment, good job growth so all those things make me happy to be part of this process."
And as much as lawmakers were excited about the focus on workforce development -- you could say there were a few things not heard from the governor which had some not so happy.
Rep. Bernie Hunhoff/ (D) Yankton: "It's all about the k-12 school system, which of course we've just slashed and slashed the funding the last several years, so a big part of workforce development should be restoring our k-12 public funding so they can have programs like career tech which the Governor talked about today."
Rep. Paula Hawks/ (D) Hartford: "Part of strengthening the workforce in South Dakota is making sure that people are healthy and that they can go to work and we can help do that by expanding Medicaid and making healthcare available to people who can't afford it."
Some of the other things the Governor talked today about were our growing economy. He said finance -- tech -- energy and agriculture were seeing success and he wants to grow the workforce needed to keep those industries going strong right here at home in South Dakota.