South Dakota’s public universities make informal budget requests for coming year

Capitol News Bureau

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — The state Board of Regents heard more than $200 million of new spending requests from South Dakota’s six public universities Thursday.

“The board will make a final decision on these items in August,” regents president John Bastian said about what’s planned for the summer retreat. Regents’ executive director Brian Maher said the presentations would be boiled down to a series of one-liners.

The board’s recommendations will then go to Governor Kristi Noem for decisions on what will be part of the formal budget request she makes to the Legislature in December. Lawmakers will decide in the 2022 legislative session what gets funded.

Most of the projects outlined Thursday involved one-time funding requests for new buildings, expansions, renovations and repairs. But there were some innovative concepts sprinkled among the bricks and mortar.

The University of South Dakota in Vermillion wants to address the state’s shortage of law enforcement officers by partnering with the state officers training academy in Pierre. The proposal calls for USD students to get state accreditation during the summer break between their junior and senior years.

“I just think this is so intriguing,” regent Pam Roberts of Pierre said. Regent Jeff Partridge of Rapid City, a former legislator, said some of the cost potentially could be picked up by the state Department of Public Safety and the state Office of Attorney General.

Another proposal involves South Dakota State University’s precision-agriculture program at Brookings and the cybersecurity expertise of Dakota State University at Madison. SDSU president Barry Dunn said South Dakota could host conferences on protecting agricultural producers and processors from online extortion and hacking.

The request for $1.25 million is to establish a structure that would become self-supporting. “I think it’s very high,” Dunn said about potential to market the services beyond South Dakota’s border. “It just seems like not a lot of money,” said regent Tony Venhuizen of Sioux Falls, until recently a top aide in the Daugaard and Noem administrations. “I’m not sure we know what we don’t know,” Dunn replied.

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