Glaringly absent from Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State Address yesterday was any mention of the teacher shortage or Medicaid expansion. Dakota Rural Action's recharged legislative blog notes another notable gap in the Governor's priorities—energy policy:
Another topic that was absent in the speech was any reference to energy, more explicitly renewable energy. Though energy prices in SD are generally lower than national averages, our energy spending per capita ranks in the top ten. Energy consumption is eighth highest in the nation. According to the “2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard” published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), South Dakota is tied for 47th with Mississippi and Alaska in energy efficiency with a score of eight out of 50 [Meghan Thoreau, "Supermajorities, State of the State, and What Goes Unsaid," Dakota Rural Action, 2015.01.14].
I recognize that even the best politician can only do so much. Governor Daugaard will have to expend some political capital to pass his proposed two-cent-per-year increase in the motor fuel tax. But I return to the critique I offered last month in South Dakota Magazine following the Governor's blasé budget address: if I had a 70% mandate from the public, supermajorities in both houses of my Legislature, and no plans to run for reëlection, I would govern my keester off. I'd rally the public and my loyal legislative minions to solve every major problem we could get our hands on. I'd build a legacy of lasting policy initiatives to invest in South Dakota's long-term well-being.
Rebuilding the state's road system would be one key part of that plan. So would ending two generations of national embarrassment for having the lowest-paid teachers. So would expanding Medicaid to insure 48,000 South Dakotans and bring huge federal stimulus. So would investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy production to save government, business, and residents money and add a whole new industry to our GDP.