Rep. Kevin Killer liked what he heard Tuesday from Gov. Dennis Daugaard on finding alternatives to prison time for non-violent offenders in South Dakota.
But Killer, a Democrat from Pine Ridge, was disappointed that the governor didn't use his State of the State message to offer any special initiatives to reach out to Native American tribes.
"I would like to hear something about building partnerships," Killer said. "It would be nice to see ideas about how the state can reach out to the tribes."
Killer also was disappointed that Daugaard didn't have any ideas for restoring at least some of what was cut two years ago in state aid to local schools. That concern was shared by Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, who said he didn't think the state had much to celebrate in balancing its budget two years ago on the backs of schools and other priorities.
"I didn't necessarily agree that we did a good job of making the cuts," said Adelstein, referring to Daugaard's comments about the value of the budget cuts. "And I want some of that money back."
Adelstein means he wants some of the cuts made to education funding and Medicaid providers restored. He also wants Daugaard to reconsider his opposition to expanding Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of uncovered South Dakotans through the federal Affordable Care Act.
"I'm really mad that so many of the working poor are going to be cut out of that coverage," Adelstein said.
Other legislators were more complimentary of the governor's message to the state Legislature, praising his call for continued fiscal responsibility two years after lawmakers made difficult cuts to fix a $127 million budget shortfall.
Rep. David Lust, R-Rapid City, the House Republican leader, said Daugaard's list of states with serious fiscal problems shows how well South Dakota has done in comparison.
"It's comforting to know how well positioned we are compared to other states," Lust said. "The public at large should really feel good about the way we have done things."
Lust said it was heartening to hear the governor support making an existing half-penny state sales tax for tourism promotion permanent. The governor also is right that South Dakota should respond to the oil and gas boom in North Dakota by developing a system that provides goods and services to the oil fields, Lust said.
"It's not so much the state stepping in as staying out of the way and helping private enterprise respond," Lust said.
Daugaard said that while South Dakota geology doesn't offer the oil and gas possibilities enjoyed in North Dakota, the state can nonetheless benefit.
"If we can't pull oil out of the ground, let's help North Dakota do so by providing goods and services," he said.
Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, served on a summer committee studying the oil and gas issue. During a trip to North Dakota, many members heard from North Dakota officials about the importance of South Dakota responding to the needs of the oil boom.
"They said we might not have the oil and gas, but we can really provide the spin-off businesses to feed off what goes on in North Dakota," Maher said.
Maher said the establishment in Belle Fourche of a pipe-fitting business serving the oil fields and employing 40 people is just one example of the larger scale of possibilities.
"We really need to pick up the ball and do some recruiting of those businesses," he said.
Maher also liked Daugaard's plan to make it easier for the spouses of military personnel to get professional licenses and accreditation, which he believes would benefit Ellsworth Air Force Base personnel and all of South Dakota.
Daugaard said about 35 percent of military spouses in the workforce need professional licenses or certification. He wants to streamline that process.
Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said that could benefit military families across the state. It could also make families at Ellsworth more likely to settle in and stay in South Dakota, he said.
"Those folks at Ellsworth have earned their bones to be South Dakotans," Nelson said. "They are good people. The more of them who stay in South Dakota, the better."