Governor Dennis Daugaard just finished his penultimate (Lori Walsh used that word—bless you, dear lady!) State of the State Address to the 2017 Legislature. The three biggest bits of news:
- Amazon has agreed to start collecting sales tax in South Dakota. Collections begin February 1; Amazon writes the first check late in March. Right now, Amazon collects sales tax for 33 states and the District of Columbia. Republicans in the chamber applauded the fact that South Dakotans will soon be paying more taxes.
- Governor Daugaard wants to sell the STAR Academy, which he closed last year. The STAR Academy sits five miles south of Custer on Highway 385/89, near the Mickelson Trail. Choice real estate in the Black Hills? Start the bidding!
- Governor Daugaard issued the K-12 schools a threat on remedial coursework. The Governor said he is “very frustrated” that only 42 out of 150 South Dakota school districts are using the Accuplacer program to help students identify and rectify weaknesses in their academic preparation. Students who fail to meet ACT benchmarks but then pass Accuplacer tests can be excused from taking remedial classes at our public universities. Governor Daugaard said that he has heard some people suggest that high schools be required to pay for remedial classes that their graduates have to take at university. Governor Daugaard said he isn’t proposing that penalty “today,” then encouraged schools to use Accuplacer, which the state makes available to schools for free.
Not mentioned once were culture-war issues. Hey, if the Governor is willing not to focus on (Christian/white) identity politics, we Democrats will happily follow suit and focus on bread-and-butter policymaking. Take a memo, Republican legislators.
Also not mentioned once: any grand new policy initiative that would really make the most of the political capital a popular governor not facing reëlection pressures could wield to do good for the people of South Dakota.