In his final state of the state address, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) called for lawmakers to help carry on the state's progress in education and the economy, saying South Dakota's low 5 percent unemployment rate shows the state is heading in the right direction.
"No matter what the Congress or the national economy dumps on us in this next year, I am still optimistic," Rounds, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits, told the Republican-controlled Legislature Jan. 12. "We will recover, we will have more jobs and we will continue to improve our quality of life here within our state."
In the address, Rounds defended his proposed spending plan, which he unveiled last month, again calling on the state to dedicate $31.8 million of its $107 million reserves for its fiscal year 2011 budget. Some state lawmakers have sought to prevent that, aiming to limit increased spending and enacting cuts. But Rounds told lawmakers that with increased unemployment and Medicaid rolls, the state and citizens can't afford across-the-board cuts.
Still, Rounds said if additional federal money came to South Dakota in the form of a second stimulus or by way of a health care reform bill, he wouldd propose using those funds to supplement his current budget, not on any new spending.
He also reiterated his support for education programs, such as tuition assistance, saying to South Dakotans, "If you can't get a job, the next best thing is to increase your knowledge and upgrade your skills to get a job. We're helping people do that, too."