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Column - A Time for Cost Savings

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By Gov. Dennis Daugaard

As most of you remember, the State of South Dakota was burdened two years ago by a structural deficit. That year, we made the tough, prudent decision to cut spending in all areas of state government. I cut my own salary by 15 percent and cut my office's budget by more than 10 percent.

It is a process that we do not wish to undertake again, which is why our state must remain vigilant against spending too much or overestimating our revenue.

I, personally, have spent countless hours researching additional cost savings at the office and at the Governor's mansion to see if we can do even more with less in our personal and professional lives.

A few weeks ago, I sat down in my easy chair at home and compiled the most effective, largest additional cost-saving measures I could accomplish.

First, I cut 80 percent of our budget for plant food and fertilizer in the house by using a bountiful and cost-free substitute. If you have been near Capitol Lake in the winter, you will know that it attracts thousands of fertilizer-producing geese. So, each Saturday morning in the winter, I sweep the driveway and collect fertilizer for our indoor plants, freeze drying the excess for use during the summer months.

Next, I cut 32 percent from our office budget for staples and paper clips by ordering my staff to fold and tear internal, multi-sheet documents. By folding over a 3-inch section corner of regular, 8½ x 11-inch sheets of paper, then making two tears one-half inch apart in the middle of the fold, multiple sheets of paper can be held together without the wasted expense of staples or paper clips.

Third, I cut 18 percent of our budget for tissue paper and coffee filters. Since the commodity price for each of those goods fluctuates slightly during the year, we could purchase large amounts of tissue paper in July when it is less expensive and large amounts of coffee filters in October, when they are cheaper. When, in the final months before our next purchase, we run out of coffee filters, we use tissue paper in their place. Likewise, when we run out of tissue paper we use coffee filters.

Finally, I cut 45 percent of our electrical budget in the mansion by using only one light and a series of mirrors that distribute the light throughout the house. It has presented challenges to my guests, however, as they are faced with the choice of closing the bathroom door or having enough light to read a magazine.

I know that these improvements are just the beginning. With each cost-saving measure, we get a leaner, better state government for the people of South Dakota.

Then, just as I envision my frugal legacy in the years to come, Linda wakes me up in my easy chair with a poke: "Dennis, we are out of Miracle Grow and the light in the bathroom is burned out again. Also, Chief of Staff Dusty Johnson brought over a few stapled copies of your monthly report which are on the counter."

Alas, this April Fool's Day I will only be able to dream of such ambitious, effective cost savings.


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