South Dakota has around 82,000 miles of public roadway. That, on top of 5,000+ bridges and 1,800+ freight railroad miles, creates an intricate surface transportation network with more miles of infrastructure per capita than almost any state in the nation. Much of this is maintained through a carefully balanced alliance of federal, state and local governments.
As a member of the U.S. House, I helped move the decade’s first long-term transportation bill to passage. Signed into law in 2015, the legislation cut red tape, increased support for South Dakota projects by 10 percent, and gave state and local governments more flexibility to address their unique infrastructure needs. As governor, I will maximize resources to fuel economic opportunity, increase safety for our families and communities, and encourage greater collaboration between state, county and local governments.
AGENDA: BUILD SOUTH DAKOTA
Prioritize road repairs. While recent investments have helped improve overall conditions, many South Dakota roads are still in need of repair. We can meet these needs without raising taxes. As governor, I will direct the South Dakota Department of Transportation to collaborate with local and county governments in prioritizing road repairs. It’s critical the state respect local input during this process, working hand-in-hand to achieve even greater efficiency and always moving toward improved safety and the freer flow of commerce.
Maximize Bridge Improvement Grant resources. Nearly one in five South Dakota bridges were rated “Structurally Deficient” by the U.S. Transportation Department in 2017. While maintaining full funding of the Bridge Improvement Grant program, my administration will work directly with counties and local governments to build greater efficiency, where possible, into their project plans and remove roadblocks. In this way, we will stretch existing resources as far as possible.
Enhance railways to support farmers and grow the economy. While serving in the U.S. House, I strongly and successfully advocated for federal TIGER Grants that supported South Dakota projects. These grants enabled the rail upgrades necessary to move commodities to market more quickly. Under a Noem administration, we will make it a top priority to compete for and win these grants to further enhance rail service and lower the basis for grain products, putting more money in the hands of hardworking farmers and growing the South Dakota economy.
Protect South Dakota’s small and regional airports. Like our highways and roads, air service is a network. Ensuring South Dakota remains connected through our smaller and regional airports must be a priority. As governor, I will protect infrastructure investments for our aviation network, as I’ve done while serving in the U.S. House. Additionally, I will work to ensure the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol, which often provides essential services during state emergencies, and the general aviation community continue to have access to the airports they need to operate.
Equip South Dakotans to fill good-paying infrastructure jobs. We already face a labor shortage, and still, even greater workforce demands are on the horizon. In South Dakota, the average tradesman is 41 years old, meaning many will be at or near retirement by the end of the next decade. To meet our long-term needs, I’m committed to:
- Bolstering Governor’s Office of Economic Development investments in programs that build awareness of the industry’s career potential and aid in recruiting new talent;
- Expanding access to experience-driven technical training at the high-school level; and
- Strengthening partnerships between state technical schools and employers to graduate 25% more apprentices by 2022. This will enable us to grow our skilled workforce and better fill good-paying infrastructure jobs with South Dakota workers.
Keep the regulatory burden low. President Trump has made the streamlining of infrastructure regulations a goal of his administration, and what an incredible story South Dakota has to share on this front! As governor, I will lead by example and partner with President Trump to streamline federal permitting processes that weigh down South Dakota developers. In doing so, I will always keep five goals in mind: (1) provide clarity to project managers regarding the process, (2) improve the timeliness of project completion, (3) offer flexibility on implementation while upholding strict outcome standards, (4) reduce costs, and (5) maintain safety.
Leverage experience to maximize federal resources. More than half of South Dakota Department of Transportation funding is federal. Simply put, it is in the country’s interest to have a well-maintained national transportation network. My work on highway legislation gave me firsthand insight into how federal highway dollars flow to South Dakota. The unmatched experience I bring to the table, along with the deep relationships I’ve built with national leaders and the Trump administration, will serve South Dakota well. I will work to maximize these federal resources, defend the formula going forward, and fully justify why it is essential to continue investing in America’s Heartland.