- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 5, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - As Gov. Dennis Daugaard says his farewells and winds down his administration, Kristi Noem is putting together a state budget proposal and planning the policy agenda for her first legislative session as South Dakota’s governor.

Noem told The Associated Press this week that she plans to unveil her budget proposal in January. But after a campaign in which Noem released more than 10 policy plans on topics ranging from agriculture to government transparency, she’s staying silent for now about her legislative priorities for the 2019 session that convenes in January.

The governor-elect said the process of looking at policies, drafting legislation and working with lawmakers will start in the coming weeks.

“Each of those policy platforms that I laid out were pretty specific in some of the reforms that I want to see and also where I believe that we need to find opportunities to partner in new ways to deliver better results,” said Noem, who noted that all likely won’t be accomplished in her first session.

Noem said she’s looking for opportunities to grow jobs and economic development and invest in the state’s biggest challenges, including drugs and mental health. After transparency emerged as a major focus in her campaign against Democrat Billie Sutton, Noem said she believes she’ll propose sunshine legislation this session but doesn’t yet have bills drawn up.

The incoming governor said she’s focused on putting together a budget that balances without raising taxes. She said it won’t rely on potential new state revenues after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota’s favor opened the door for consumers to see sales tax on more online purchases from out-of-state companies.

South Dakota officials celebrated the decision, and the state on Nov. 1 started requiring many internet retailers outside South Dakota to collect the taxes.

“We will not be spending dollars that we don’t know for sure will be here,” Noem said of her budget proposal.

Daugaard on Tuesday gave a farewell address and outlined his final budget plan, proposing spending increases for education, state employees and Medicaid providers. Noem said there may be a few changes from Daugaard’s plan for K-12, Medicaid providers and public workers, but she didn’t anticipate a major shift from his proposal. She’ll be working on her budget for the rest of December.

In a statement after the address, Noem said she would work with lawmakers to strengthen communities and families while maintaining the state’s AAA credit rating.

Noem will take office Jan. 5 and will give her first State of the State address to the Republican-controlled Legislature on Jan. 8, the first day of the 2019 session. Noem said her administration is setting up its team and cabinet officials.

Noem in late November named her chief of staff and filled key leadership roles for finance and communications. Not long after, she announced a slew of cabinet appointments and a talent search for seven major posts, including secretaries of agriculture, education and social services and commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

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