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Interim Committee Wants $800K to Maintain and Expand 211 Service

The Legislature’s interim committee on access to mental health services decided yesterday to propose expanding 2-1-1 phone service statewide to help prevent suicide, domestic abuse, and child mistreatment. According to committee documents, the plan would expand 211 service to rural counties at a cost of $298,000:

  • Staffing: $258,000
  • Equipment/software: $15,000
  • Training: $1,000
  • Educational materials: $10,000
  • Travel: $3,000
  • Telephone charges/supplies: $5,000
  • Occupancy: $5,000
  • Insurance/professional fees: $1,000

Evidently the cost of 211 service in “urban” counties is currently covered by private and public donors, but the committee document says “there is a high probability” that those donors “would discontinue funding for their local areas if the State of South Dakota funded the remaining non 211 counties.” The committee thus says it would cost $800,000 total to keep the service we have and expand to rural areas. The committee also says that cost, which is over 80% staffing, would only increase 1% each year.

Rep. Herman Otten (R-6/Tea) says spending is a “step we need to take.” But we can’t even afford $62K to translate our driver exams into Spanish, so Rep. Otten can surely kiss that plan goodbye.



  1. John 2018-12-04

    The Billings Gazette lead story is a chronic shortage of rural teachers and superintendents.
    Other recent headlines here, there, and elsewhere show rural communities and economies in downturn. We lack an economic policy to sustain rural communities and their schools.
    In the absence of an economic policy that leads to re-populating the rural voids – we need government policies to consolidate school district, local, county governments.

  2. jerry 2018-12-04

    Very good link John. Having school districts consolidated makes sense as well as county governments for costs and for services they could render more efficiently. However, the end result of that is the elimination of many small towns that depend on government to keep them alive. The county seats in these areas are only there because of government. These tend to vote republican so eliminating them in South Dakota, is impossible at this time. While they bemoan government, they cannot be without the influx of government money.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-12-04

    and for gawd’s sake, John, do not let Grudznick or OldSaltwaterdaffy know you are not of their white state. It could go hard on you. Welcome aboard.

  4. TAG 2018-12-04

    I’m really confused. So our Republican legislature wants to take a social service that has been provided privately through donations and volunteers, and replace it with a government-funded service that is provided to everyone in the state? A service that helps vulnerable people?

    The only possible reason for this is a refuting of the gun-control claims (both true BTW) that the suicide rate and murder rate will both be reduced drastically with less access to guns. Especially restricting access from domestic abusers.

    Oh well. It’s a good policy that will help people, regardless of the motive. Helpline access in rural areas where people generally have less access to social services actually makes sense.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-04

    We don’t have to go either-or, but John’s comment gets me wondering what would prevent more despair and suicide: a telephone hotline or a real plan to reinvigorate and diversify the rural economy?

  6. Debbo 2018-12-04

    So the hotline for unserved rural areas will cost about $300,000, but they want another $500,000. Whose pockets will that go into? SDGOP getting a head start on the 2019-2020 graft?

  7. T 2018-12-04

    So what about Ziebach county for example

  8. jerry 2018-12-04

    There is only one way to diversify rural areas and that takes money and lots of it. You get that through infrastructure programs, you know, the one trillion that was promised by trump. Where is that?

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-07

    I’m puzzled, Debbo, as to why the current donors would back out if the state added money to expand services. The investment seems sensible. It will be interesting to hear legislators weigh the costs and benefits and explain whether we can afford this investment but not other things like translations of driver exams.

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