Home
About
Agencies
Agency RSS
Agency
Listservs
Archives
Multimedia
Subscribe
Contact

Governor's Column: Leaving It Better Than You Found It





Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501

605-773-3212

www.sd.gov

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, October 19, 2018

CONTACT:  Tony Venhuizen or Bailey Carlsen at 605-773-3212

 

EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  Please consider the following column from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. For an audio recording of the Governor’s weekly column, visit news.sd.gov/media.aspx and click on “Audio” under “Governor Dennis Daugaard.”

 

 

Leaving It Better Than You Found It

 

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

 

Over the past few months, Linda and I have been getting ready to turn the Governor’s Mansion over to its next occupants.  We’ve been working with state maintenance crews to replace light bulbs, repaint rooms, clean out the drains, and make other small improvements.  The Mansion is just like any other house – over time, small projects like these accumulate.  We want to get these projects done now, so the home is in great shape for its next occupants.

 

That’s a common South Dakota philosophy – to leave something better than when you found it.  It’s good stewardship.  As with the Mansion, I’ve tried to bring that approach to other state assets.  Over the past eight years, we have made improvements to many state buildings, starting with the State Capitol.  In 2014, we restored much of the Capitol’s stained glass, preserving it for decades to come.  We installed a better fire suppression system and handicapped-accessible restrooms on the third floor, where the legislature meets.  And we have planted hundreds of trees on the Capitol complex.

 

Throughout the state, we have increased our annual spending on maintenance and repair of state buildings, with a goal of spending two percent of replacement value each year on maintenance and repair.  I strongly believe that “a stitch in time saves nine,” and that this spending will ultimately avoid larger costs down the road. With support from the legislature, we applied the same principle to our state’s roads and bridges.  Today our highways are in good condition, and this emphasis on early maintenance will save millions of dollars in the years to come.

 

I have also identified property that the state no longer needs.  We first addressed the Human Services Center in Yankton. A number of buildings on the campus were vacant and some were beyond repair. As we started to pursue sales options, we heard concerns from those within the community who stressed the need to preserve the history of HSC. We worked with the Yankton County Historical Society to negotiate a lease-purchase agreement for the historic Mead Building.  With the Legislature’s support, we then sold the remaining unneeded land and demolished many vacant, dilapidated buildings.  I recently visited the Mead Building, and the restoration is nearly complete; it will be an asset to the community for decades to come. 

 

Similar sales of property have occurred in Custer, Rapid City, Plankinton and Redfield.  In each case, we are avoiding the cost of maintaining these properties and, in many cases, the properties have gone back onto the tax rolls.

 

Stewardship is also a principle that has guided our state’s financial management.  I am very proud that the South Dakota Retirement System is one of just a few pension plans in the nation that is fully funded, and over the last eight years I have supported numerous proposals by the SDRS trustees to further strengthen that plan. 

 

The strength of the retirement system is one reason that South Dakota achieved a bond rating of AAA – the highest available – from all three major rating agencies in the past few years.  Another reason is that the rating agencies recognize our state’s prudent financial management.  We don’t spend money we don’t have.  We use one-time revenues for one-time purposes, and ongoing revenues for ongoing purposes.  We maintain a ten-percent reserve fund, but we only spend it for true emergencies, not to perpetuate overspending.  And we use conservative, realistic estimates when we plan our state budget – we don’t rely on optimistic estimates or accounting tricks.

 

It isn’t always easy to adhere to those principles.  My first year in office, many legislators showed great courage in joining with me to balance our budget, even though it required cuts of ten percent to most state agencies.  That tough decision was the right one, though, and we are a stronger state because of it.  As I leave office at the end of this year, I feel good that I will be leaving a state government that is stronger than what I found.  I am also confident that, so long as our leaders continue to adhere to these sound management principles – to maintain a commitment to stewardship, South Dakota will continue to become even stronger. 

 

 

-30-