Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune announced today that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2009 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill and the Energy and Water Appropriation bill - both of which include important funding priorities for South Dakota.

"Today's committee passage of these important funding items for South Dakota signals good news for projects across South Dakota," said Thune. "Our work to promote the importance of these projects that directly impact thousands of South Dakotans has paid off.

"South Dakota's economy is dependent on a viable transportation system. My provisions in this bill help improve roads that are critical commercial arteries and have been rated as a top priority by the South Dakota Department of Transportation for repair and improvement. The bill also includes my requests for several South Dakota housing projects that will create jobs and improve lives."

Overall Transportation Funding: The FY 2009 THUD Appropriations bill would provide $41.2 billion in funding authorized by the Transportation Reauthorization bill that Congress passed in 2005. Within this amount, South Dakota would receive roughly $231.6 million in the coming year for road and bridge improvements across the state. This important funding is provided entirely through user fees that are collected from gasoline and diesel fuel. As a result of Senator Thune's work on the 2005 Transportation Reauthorization bill, South Dakota will continue to receive a 2-1 rate of return for every dollar of motor fuel tax that's collected.

    Transportation Projects Secured by Senator Thune:
  • $2 million for interstate and structural improvements on I-90 between the Lawrence County Line and Exit 32;

  • $1 million for improvements to SD 73 from US 18 in Bennett County to the Jackson County line. SD 73 is a significant commerce link between South Dakota and Nebraska and also serves Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations;

  • $1 million for intersection improvements on US 212 and US 81 near Watertown. These improvements will improve safety due to increased truck traffic.

    Economic Development Projects Secured by Senator Thune:
  • $600,000 for the Ojinjinkta Housing Development facility to purchase inventory and new equipment to build affordable homes on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Joint request with Senator Tim Johnson);

  • $500,000 for the construction of both an inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment center for women and their children at the Child and Family Service Center run by Volunteers of America in Sioux Falls;

  • $200,000 for the construction of the Upper Plains Green Training Center, Rural Learning Center in Howard.

    Other South Dakota Projects Included in the Bill:
  • $1.5 million for road improvements on Powderhouse Road from SD 42 to Madison Street in Sioux Falls;

  • $1 million for Cuny Table Road (BIA Route 2) on the Pine Ridge reservation;

  • $250,000 for both the Four Bands Community Fund and the Lakota Fund to enable them to capitalize on loan programs and provide business development assistance;

  • $200,000 for the Lake Area Improvement Corporation to expand the industrial park in Madison;

  • $200,000 for the Grand River Area Boys and Girls Clubs (Standing Rock);

  • $200,000 for the revitalization of the Pierre historic downtown and waterfront areas.

"The Lewis and Clark Rural Water Project is vital to the future of many communities in South Dakota and our region," said Thune. "Senator Johnson and I have worked hard to ensure that federal funding continues to help keep this project on schedule. While we still have work to do before Congress finalizes the 2009 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, the $30 million in record funding for Lewis and Clark will certainly help our efforts."

The following is a summary of the drinking water projects that Senator Thune advocated as part of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill:

ProjectCurrent FundingSenateHouse
Lewis & Clark$26.568 million$30 million$25 million
Mni Wiconi$37.571 million$37.182 million$28.24 million
Perkins County$2.952 million$3 million$3 million
Total$67.091 million$70.182 million$56.24 million

    Senator Thune also worked to include funding for the following water related projects in the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Senate bill:
  • $7 million to assist the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe with wildlife restoration plans and cultural and historic sites as a result of the thousands of acres of land that were lost due to the construction of the reservoirs along the Missouri River ($4 million for construction and $3 million for operation and maintenance);

  • $4 million to assist the City of Sioux Falls as it works to strengthen the city's flood protection along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek to ensure that 1,600 homeowners and businesses are adequately protected against the risk of a 100-year flood event which could cause $750 million in damage. Senator Thune has spearheaded an expedited plan to assist the city in completing this important project;

  • $450,000 to complete the Watertown Flood Control plan;

  • $350,000 for the James River Water District flood control efforts.

    Continuing Senator Thune's past efforts to support various energy projects in South Dakota, the Energy and Water Appropriations bill also includes:
  • $4 million for the Sun Grant Initiative at South Dakota State University to continue work with the Department of Energy regarding biomass research and development;

  • $1.1 million for the Catalysis Alternative Energy Group at the University of South Dakota which continues to conduct important research regarding solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells.

"Today's approval by the Appropriations Committee is an important step in securing these vital funding projects for the coming fiscal year and I will continue to advocate for the Senate funding levels as Congress works to complete action on the spending measures. This will not be easy though because in the case of the $4 million for flood protection improvements in Sioux Falls, the House has again failed to include any funding for the city's top priority. In addition, because the majority of the Appropriation bills are not expected to receive consideration in the House or Senate before the start of the fiscal year (October 1, 2009) which will most likely require an extension of existing funding levels - possibly into January of 2009."