Monthly Archives: March 2011

What does tuition and fees increase cover?

According to the regents’ central administration, the 6.9 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees will generate an estimated $9,053,696 and offset that much in budget cuts. With a 1 percent inflation impact as part of the equation, the campuses face actual budget cuts of $5,621,596 for the coming 2012 fiscal year that begins this July 1.

Regents adopt 6.9 percent tuition and fees increase

On a 8-1 vote, the South Dakota Board of Regents just adopted the 6.9 percent tuition and fee increase as proposed for the 2011-2012 academic year. The lone “no” vote came from Jim Hansen of Pierre, who sought a 5.9 percent increase instead. Hansen’s motion failed to get a second. See below posts for further background on today’s proposal, debate and actions.

Krogman’s 8 percent tuition and fee increase rejected

The South Dakota Board of Regents voted 6-3 against a motion by Dean Krogman of Brookings to increase university tuition and fees by an average of 8 percent moments ago. Randy Schaefer of Madison in turn made a motion to approve the regental administration’s proposal which calls for an average increase of 6.9 percent (see below post). The debate is continuing, now past 35 minutes.

Referral of large-projects grant law open to question

It will be interesting to see whether the Legislature’s decision to divert 22 percent of contractors excise tax revenues to large project grants will indeed wind up on the November 2012 ballot. The state constitution prohibits referral of some laws, specifically those “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, support of state government and its existing public institutions.” The legislation, HB 1230, specifically doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2013, regardless. The measure was sought by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Leading the petition drive in an attempt to refer the bill to a statewide public vote is Democratic Party state chairman Ben Nesselhuf. He filed his initial paperwork today and now has 90 days to collect and submit the required 15,885 valid signatures of registered South Dakota voters. The deadline is at 5 p.m. on June 27. The bill passed along party lines, with Democrats opposing it and all but one Republican — Rep. Lance Russell of Hot Springs — opposing it.

SDSU president cuts moustache 10 percent

Not really! But The Collegian, the student newspaper at South Dakota State University, has a truly funny second section this week marking April 1. The lead story is about SDSU President David Chicoine trimming his moustache by 10 percent as part of the 10 percent budget cuts sought by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and approved by the Legislature. The story is hilarious, including a great actual quote from earlier this year when Chicoine talked about the need to put a human face on the cuts, and some creative soul altered a photo of Chicoine to erase a portion of the ‘stache. Your correspondent tracked down President Chicoine and confirmed the real moustache remains intact as of this afternoon.

Regents working from 6.9 percent tuition and fees proposal

The South Dakota Board of Regents is meeting this afternoon. The key items on the agenda are budget cuts imposed by the Legislature and the regents’ coming decision on tuition and fees for the 2011-2012 academic year. The regents are starting the tuition and fees discussion shortly. They are working from a base proposal of a 6.9 percent average increase of $489.58.  The numbers vary by campus. Northern State University, with a major student-center project under way, would see the largest jump under the proposal at 9.4 percent or $639.89. (NSU would be 6.9 percent without the additional fee increase for the project.)  The smallest percentage increase would be at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at 6.1 percent or $481.70. The smallest dollar increase would be at South Dakota State University at $472.08 or 6.9 percent. The other proposed numbers are Black Hills State University at 6.8 percent or $473.61; Dakota State University at 6.3 percent or $480.30; and University of South Dakota at 6.6 percent or $476.73.

Ellsworth Development Authority membership keeps changing

Since taking office in January, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has appointed nearly an entire new membership of the Ellsworth Development Authority, the quasi-governmental body that was created in 2009 to help shape what happens around the Air Force base east of Rapid City.

The latest change came today with the choice of Kent Mundon of Rapid City. He succeeds retired Sioux Falls banker Jeff Erickson, who recently resigned. Erickson was one of the authority’s original members and was chief of Daugaard’s transition team after the November election.

The term of another original member, Gary Grittner of Fort Pierre, expired recently. Daugaard tapped Bob Sutton of Pierre to take that slot.

Earlier this month, Daugaard selected three other new members. They are Pat Burchill of Rapid City, Ken McNenny of Sturgis and Michael Bender of Sioux Falls. Daugaard also named Burchill as the new chairman.

Those three replaced Glen Kane of Rapid City, whose term expired, and Mark Johnston of Sioux Falls and Bruce Rampelberg of Rapid City, who were elected to seats in the state Senate last November. Rampelberg was chairman.

Only two of the original members from 2009 remain. They are Mark Roby of Watertown and Stanley Porch of Wanblee.

Daugaard, while lieutenant governor, testified before a Senate committee about the need for the legislation creating the authority.

Last week, the state Board of Water and Natural Resources approved two grants totaling $1 million to the authority for the design work on a new wastewater treatment facility that would serve the general neighborhood of the base. At this point the authority has no revenue stream to pay for the project.

Does BIT have to be a thankless job?

With the announcement this afternoon by Gov. Dennis Daugaard that he has hired the oft-traveled and well-seasoned technology pro Dom Bianco as the next state commissioner of information and telecommunications, two questions arise. What will he bring to the job that the governor found lacking in Otto Doll, who wasn’t retained after Daugaard won the November election? And can any leader of the state Bureau of Information and Telecommunications satisfy the broad range of technology interests throughout state government and at South Dakota Public Broadcasting, while also keeping the services secure and consistently up, and recruiting and retaining the I.T. employees to get it all done?

Doll, who had been in the state job for 14 years, landed on his feet as chief information officer for the city government of Minneapolis. Bianco starts here on May 9 and comes from WNM Communications, a rural telephone and Internet services company in western New Mexico, where he’s president and general manager. He previously was director of telecommunications services for a Houston, Minnesota, company, ACE Communications Group, and according to the governor’s announcement “spent the bulk of his career” working in northern California as an engineer and engineering manager for SBC DataCom and its predecessor, Pacific Bell.

Both the governor and his son-in-law, Tony Venhuizen, the new director of communications and policy development, were interested in a fresh perspective for BIT. A key sentence in the governor’s statement today might be this: “I also appreciate his (Dom’s) experience working in sales and customer relations for government clients.” The soft-spoken, highly intelligent Otto Doll by nature wasn’t a salesman, and his reputation suffered among other Cabinet members and university officials as a result. But he and others in the Janklow administration certainly put South Dakota on the national map with the wiring-the-schools initiative of the late 1990s. Bianco’s starting salary will be $110,000. Doll’s ending salary was $137,060. It will be fascinating to see what comes in the months and years ahead.

In praise of Don Kattke

OK, let’s give credit where it’s due — twice. Without Secretary of State Jason Gant deciding to post on his office’s Internet site more of the official information that is filed in his office, not as many people would have known that Don Kattke is retiring from the state Department of Labor. He’s director of the state Unemployment Insurance Division, based in Aberdeen. He’s been with Labor for 40 years and is stepping down effective April 7. There’s a retirement luncheon for him in Aberdeen on Thursday, March 31. An executive proclamation declaring April 7 as Don Kattke Day in South Dakota was issued by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The neat thing about the decision to post these proclamations on the Secretary of State’s web page is they form a rolling history of South Dakota, telling stories that otherwise might be lost in a file drawer or missed altogether.

The new Dakota War College

We now have irrefutable, incontrovertible, absolutely positive proof that former blogger savant Pat Powers isn’t secretly still pulling the string at his old site Dakota War College. One of the new crew, Kristi Golden, is quoting state Rep. Lora Hubbel, R-Sioux Falls, as a source on budget matters. There was a time not many months ago, when Pat still ran the show at the blog, that Lora Hubbel was a target, not a source. Unfortunately, when Pat departed for his new gig with Secretary of State Jason Gant, the archives from his era went with him. So I guess I don’t have that irrefutable, incontrovertible, absolutely positive proof after all… but believe me, it’s true.