Legislative News

Heinemann’s Weekly Report

By Rep. Leslie Heinemann
As I mentioned in last week’s column, we were fortunate to have a budget reserve from Fiscal Year ‘12 as well as ‘13, so thus the reason for the end of the session discussions on where to place the one time funds. The estimates came in at about $26 million in December,  but by the time we were finishing up more than three months later, the projections  had grown to a little over $30 million. We used about $14 million to add to various education programs, and it wasn’t until the last few days that the expansion of the cyber security program at Dakota State University came up for consideration.
The proposal was to expand the tenure track computer science faculty by two the first year, while adding 10 additional students to the program. Then the next two years the program would add a faculty member each year, while adding additional students to the program to bring the total expansion to 56 new computer science/cyber security majors. Dr. Borofsky, as well as your delegation from District 8, testified at the House Appropriations Committee to allocate $900,000 with one time money to fund this program.
Many of you know the importance of cyber security, and it’s a growing challenge for not only our military, banks and credit card companies, but health care records, e-mail and a variety of other areas. DSU is considered one of the top four universities nationwide that offers  a major in this area, and there are companies as well as our military that need more trained graduates, as the demand is greater than the supply. I contract with Infotech Systems in Madison to provide my dental office records security, and that company is a great example of the results of the computer science program at DSU. We need to support and grow that niche at DSU, and this one time money would accomplish that goal.
It was not an easy “sell,” as many other worthwhile demands came into play; Medicaid expansion, K-12  education, Board of Regents higher education, etc.  My House caucus only wanted to support one year since this was one time money, but I convinced the 53 members that you couldn’t recruit two PhD faculty from a nationwide pool with only a one year guarantee, and with the addition of 56 students in that major, the program would be self-sustaining by the fourth year. Thanks to a combined effort from your District 8 delegation, the final appropriations bill included the full proposed program.
We look forward to the implementation of the expanded program, and wish Dr. Borofsky the best in the mechanics of making a great program even better. I also wish him the best in his inauguration to officially take over as President of DSU.
Congratulations go out to the Madison High School  boys basketball team for winning the State Championship! What a great season!
I hope to provide you with some different topics this upcoming year. I will most likely be appointed to a couple summer study committees and will provide some insight into what I believe would be interesting issues. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve the people of District 8.

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