Regents consider budget plan for S.D. universities

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The panel that oversees South Dakota’s public universities plans next week to decide how much to ask Governor Kristi Noem to seek from the Legislature next winter.

The state Board of Regents meets August 7-8 in Fort Pierre. The nine members have been talking for months about what they see as their priorities for the six traditional campuses and two university centers in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

The regents also run two schools for K-12 students who have hearing and vision difficulties.

Legislators meanwhile have been raising questions about some of the board’s recent decisions.

One of the latest was the state Department of Health, the state Department of Labor and Regulation and the regents’ School for the Deaf sharing space at a new combined location in Sioux Falls.

Another that caught some lawmakers off-guard this spring was converting University Center in Sioux Falls to a community college under supervision of the University of South Dakota at Vermillion.

The regents amid that background continue to want more public funding from state lawmakers for university students who need financial assistance.

The request currently under consideration calls for more than $1.9 million for first-time first-year students from lower-income households. Over four years, the amount would grow to more than $5.7 million to cover the first four years of students.

Legislation for needs-based grants to students advanced in the 2019 session changed several times and received some support but ultimately failed.

The regents overall are considering requesting more than $8.3 million in increases in ongoing funding, including nearly $5.9 million more for maintenance and repair throughout the system and about $400,000 for Native American student centers at Black Hills State University in Spearfish and Northern State University in Aberdeen.

The regents also are looking at several one-time funding priorities such as:

Nearly $400,000 for a cyber incubator and entrepreneurial center at Dakota State University in Madison,

$2 million for an incubator at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City,

$10 million for a health-sciences building at USD and

$275,000 to help pay for the first two years of courses for veterinary students at South Dakota State University in Brookings.

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