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Governor Daugaard discusses parachuting, Medicaid expansion and Canadian Pacific Railway


Sioux Falls S.D. (KELO AM) - “The skydive over Madison, S.D. was an absolute thrill,” said Dennis Daugaard, Governor, South Dakota.  “We were on a small plane that took 30 minutes to climb up to 10-thousand feet.  The camera man went out first and my tandem jump partner Dan and I edged toward the door on our knees and 1-2-3 we were out.”

Daugaard said, they free-fell for 5,000 feet which lasted about 30-seconds.  The fall wasn’t really scary, because you don’t perceive the ground coming up and it feels like you are just floating in a windy environment.  It was at 5000 feet, Dan pulled the chute and it took a little for the cords to unravel.  Dan would pull one side and we would wheel around and pull on the other side and we would wheel around the other way. 

“I did this because the Madison, S.D. Dairy Queen sells the most Blizzards nation-wide for the Children’s Miracle Network,” said Daugaard.  “Madison is a small community for a Dairy Queen location and they really go after it on Children’s Miracle Treat Day.  I agreed to jump if they sold over 32-thousand Blizzards, and they blew past that and sold 38-thousand.” 

Daugaard said it was a lot of fun and he would jump again, but the First Lady (Linda) may not be so thrilled about it.  With the jump being a huge success, the Governor shifted to Medicaid expansion; another topic on his mind.

“The Medicaid report is being completed right now and there were a lot of comments with different members asking for amendments,” Said Daugaard.  “I have blocked out some time next week to look at the final report.  It doesn’t recommend to be for or against the expansion but lays out the pros and cons, and with that I will hopefully gain the insight of whether South Dakota should expand or not.”

Daugaard said he isn’t pre-disposed to expanding it, and would like to see the federal government subsidies starting on January first.  He pointed out that right now we do cover the adult population who are frail or unable, but the able-bodied adults aren’t covered.  After January, anyone working 30 hours at minimum wage will be qualified for these federal subsidies.  The workers will pay 2-percent of their income and the federal subsidies will pay for the rest. 

“I want to be open minded and not oblivious to facts of which I am unaware,” said Daugaard.  “With all if the facts, I will have to make a budget recommendation as part of my address in December.  Starting 1 October, people who want to comply with the individual mandate can apply.”

Daugaard said he is also concerned with the Canadian Pacific Railway and work they need to complete.  He is aware that many shippers and commodity groups rely on this railway and wants them to keep to their initial representations that they presented when they purchased the railway in 2008. 

“They said they would invest 300-million dollars in upgrades which are on top of what the Dakota Minnesota and Eastern Railroad were going to make anyway,” said Daugaard.   “There are Class One rails that allow a 10-mile per hour rate, Excepted Rail which is worse than Class One and they promised to upgrade everything to Class Three – the best.  I want to know if they fulfilled all those promises, and we are going to press the Surface Transportation Board to make sure they meet their commitments.” 

“We want to make sure Canadian Pacific meets their conditions of their sale, because after owning the railway for only six years, they want to sell,” said Daugaard. 

Daugaard said he is watching the draught map for the year and is thankful.  At the beginning of March, we were at 100-percent draught with 87-percent in severe draught.  Now at the end of August two-thirds of the state has no draught and less than 1-percent in severe draught – a dramatic turnaround!

Governor Dennis Daugaard was a guest on the Greg Belfrage Show August 30, 2013.