The South Dakota Board of Regents could see a $5.3 million increase if Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposed budget is passed by the S.D. Legislature before adjourning in March.
In the Governor’s Budget Address Tuesday, Daugaard proposed a 2.2 percent increase in the general fund for the BOR, in addition to a 3 percent salary increase for all state employees. Additional allocations include:
— $600,000 to veterans’ services for higher
— $1.7 million for maintenance and repair for higher education.
— $1.9 million to establish a physics Ph.D. program at both the University of South Dakota and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
Janelle Toman, director of communications for the BOR, said the BOR’s request was slightly higher than what Daugaard proposed.
“It’s not unusual that we are receiving slightly less than what we asked for,” Toman said. “We always hope for more, but we are happy with what he has proposed.”
USD President James Abbott said he was not surprised by Daugaard’s proposed budget.
“I did not expect more,” Abbott said. “I knew the governor’s budget would be conservative.”
Abbott said he was happy with what Daugaard proposed for BOR increases.
“I appreciate the $1.9 million for the physics program,” Abbott said. “And I appreciate the 3 percent salary increase, though I think our professors deserve more, but it’s better than it’s been in the past several years. I also appreciate the money for maintenance.”
The physics Ph.D. program, which is currently only a suggested expenditure, is something the BOR and the two involved universities have pushed for, Abbott said.
“Since we already have a master’s program and we’ve been working in the Sanford Underground Lab (in Lead, S.D.) since it opened, we are very pleased with this step forward,” Abbott said.
Toman said the BOR was pleased to see funding for the physics Ph.D. programs.
“This is a very critical program that we’ve been requesting for several years,” Toman said. “During the recession years, we knew it wasn’t likely to pass then. Ever since the Sanford Underground Lab opened, we’ve felt that since we have a research facility focusing on physics, it’s necessary to have this Ph.D. program.”
Toman said South Dakota is currently only one of two states without a physics Ph.D. program.
“We’re looking forward to seeing this become a reality,” she said.