Sutton blasting donors with weekly post-election loss appeals for cash. Is Billie running for something or just trying to retire debt?

As we hit Friday, the Billie Sutton for Governor sent the latest in what has become a string of seemingly never-ending e-mailed solicitations for money.

In fact, I think I’ve seen as many in the last month as in the last few months of the Gubernatorial Campaign, as they are constantly being dropped in e-mail boxes.

(Sorry for the small type on some of these, they didn’t lay the first couple out very well for scaling.)



I look at it with one of two outcomes in mind. It seems as if either Billie Sutton is thinking about running for something coming off of his immediately past loss in the race for Governor…  or he’s continuing to work over donors in an effort to retire campaign debt.

Considering the weekly frequency of the appeals, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.  It’s certainly not coming without a purpose in mind.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Remembering 41

Remembering 41
By Sen. John Thune

Like so many other young conservatives in the 1980s, I really came of age politically during the Reagan Revolution. I was deeply inspired by President Reagan’s commitment to democracy and freedom and his compassionate, yet principled approach to governing, a model I’ve tried to embody throughout my service to the people of South Dakota.

President Reagan was a tremendous public figure, but he had help along the way and often leaned on George H.W. Bush, his trusted vice president who served alongside him for all eight years of his presidency. Reagan trusted him for the same reasons the American people trusted him when they later elected him to serve as our 41st president: He was smart, kind, a true public servant, and dedicated to making America a better place than when he found it.

By the time George H.W. Bush (or just “41” as he’s known today) ascended to the presidency, he’d already spent a lifetime in public service. Barely an adult, he enlisted in the Navy and quickly became one of the youngest naval aviators ever to take to the sky. James Baker, Bush’s long-time friend, White House chief of staff, and secretary of state, described him poignantly as a “charter member of the Greatest Generation.”

War hero was only one chapter in Bush’s long and tenured career in public service. He would later serve as a member of Congress, ambassador to the United Nations, diplomat in China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice president of the United States – all jobs that most public servants would consider a pinnacle career achievement on their own, let alone collectively.

His resume for president was as good as it gets, a characterization he’d likely contend, as humble as he was in life. And while he’d been assigned many titles throughout his nine-plus decades on earth, I think it’s safe to say that above all others, he was proudest to be called husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

On his marriage to Barbara, the longest marriage of any presidential couple in our nation’s history, Bush once wrote, “I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”

I was humbled and honored to attend President Bush’s funeral in Washington, D.C. As I listened to everyone who spoke at the memorial service, it was almost as if they were puzzle pieces perfectly selected to illustrate each corner of Bush’s life, giving all of us a full picture of what this man meant to the United States. They talked about his place in history and his role as a world leader and described him as a friend, family man, and son of God.

In an almost poetic way, presidential historian Jon Meacham said of Bush that he was “America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th-century founding father.” Meacham was able to read his full eulogy to the president before his passing, and the president responded in a way and with a sense of humility that only he could: “That’s a lot about me, Jon.” As if to say his own eulogy should focus more on the people he served rather than the man who so selflessly served them – humble to the very end.

When President George W. Bush spoke at the funeral, it was an emotional message from a son to his father, not one president simply eulogizing another. The 43rd president said of the 41st, “He taught us what it means to be a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was firm in his principles and supportive as we began to seek our own ways. He encouraged and comforted but never steered. We tested his patience. I know I did. But he always responded with the great gift of unconditional love.” Unconditional love. What a profound and timeless lesson on what truly matters in life.

Rest in peace, Mr. President.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Remembering a Great American

Remembering a Great American
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Across the country, Americans are mourning the loss of President George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, who passed away on Nov. 30, 2018, at age 94. President Bush was an extraordinary man who exemplified everyday American values: faith, family and country. He married Barbara Pierce after World War II and together they had six children: George, Robin, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. He and Barbara were married for 73 years when she passed away in April of this year.

President Bush was a warrior, diplomat, peacemaker, leader and public servant. He served in many different capacities during his more than 40 years in public service. He was a young naval aviator who fought in World War II, a two-term congressman from Texas, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president under President Reagan before he was elected president. He valued public service and has said, “Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” He shared that sense of duty with others through his Points of Light Foundation which promotes volunteerism and giving back to our communities.

As a World War II veteran, President Bush was a member of the Greatest Generation. He was a man of integrity who governed during times of both war and peace. The decisions he made have had a lasting global impact. When the Soviet Union was collapsing, we were worried about the threat of war and what they would do with their nuclear weapons. President Bush decided to meet with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to find a solution where peace could prevail. That is a testament to President Bush’s leadership, demeanor and diplomatic skills.

Leaders can and should learn from other leaders, and President Bush’s leadership has inspired countless men and women to give back to their communities in a leadership capacity. I remember attending a speech that then-Vice President Bush gave in Pierre at T.F. Riggs High School when he was running for the presidency. He took dozens of questions from the audience, answered them thoughtfully and thoroughly and treated everyone at the event with respect. Rather than trying to highlight the divisions between himself and his opponent, he spoke with optimism about the future of our country. He reminded us that as Americans we have much more in common than what divides us. That message has had a real impact on me and the way in which I seek to lead.

While George H. W. Bush served as leader of the most powerful country in the world, at his core he was no different than many South Dakotans. He was a man of deep faith who put God and family first. He believed fiercely in serving others and giving back. He was also a man who loved the outdoors, like so many of us here in South Dakota. In fact, President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush spent time in the beautiful Black Hills hiking, fishing and visiting Mount Rushmore. He loved spending time on the water, and often took friends, family and neighbors on boat rides even during the later years of his life. But most of all, he enjoyed spending time with his beloved wife Barbara and their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.

George H.W. Bush is one of just 45 people throughout our 242 year history elected to serve as the leader of the United States of America. He leaves behind a lasting legacy and lifelong lessons which we can all strive to achieve. Jean and I continue to keep the Bush family in our prayers as the nation joins together to honor the incredible life of our 41st president.

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Governor-Elect Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Building a Stronger Economy

Building a Stronger Economy
By Governor-elect Kristi Noem

A couple years ago, I was at the grocery store when a young mom stopped me in the aisle. Her cart was full of generic groceries. Her pocket was full of coupons. She looked at me and said: “Kristi, when are things going to get better?”

We talked about how costs had gone up – healthcare, groceries, electricity, childcare – yet she hadn’t seen a pay raise in years.

That scenario became the foundation of what I fought for while I helped negotiate once-in-a-generation tax cuts that began to answer that question.

Those historic tax cuts were signed into law about a year ago, and things have gotten better.

The average South Dakota family of four will now receive a $2,400 tax cut. How? I fought for lower rates, a doubling of the Child Tax Credit, and reforms that have made America’s economy boom. Millions have received pay raises, bonuses, or increased benefits. Job creation is up. And despite leaving more money in people’s pockets, the resulting economic growth is expected to increase federal revenues $1 trillion over the long term, helping stabilize the budget.

I will apply these same low-tax, pro-growth principles as governor and veto efforts to increase taxes. You’ve worked hard for your money; our state government must respect that.

And our work to kickstart the economy has just begun.

In early December, I announced that Steve Westra will join my administration as Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Steve brings a background of business experience and innovation to the table. Currently the Chief Operating Officer of Hegg Companies Inc., a Sioux Falls-based company, Steve has shown a unique ability to develop strategies and creative approaches that bring job-creating projects to South Dakota. He’s also served on the Tourism Advisory Board, the Sioux Falls Board of Health, and in the State House of Representatives. Most importantly, I know Steve will run a service-oriented agency. He’ll lead by example in serving the businesses GOED is working to grow. He’ll respect and serve South Dakota taxpayers.

I have big plans for the future of South Dakota’s economy, and Steve is just the partner I need to make those plans a reality. Together, we’ll transform GOED into an agency that centers around keeping South Dakota’s taxes and red tape at a minimum while making the right investments. We’ll make it easier to start and grow a business.

I also see GOED playing a bigger role in coordinating workforce development. I want to bring the department together with area employers, the South Dakota Department of Education, the Board of Regents, and tech schools to make sure young people are getting the skills needed to prepare them for key jobs.

What’s more, I believe South Dakota is ready for a new growth industry. The financial services industry flourished in our state during the 80’s and 90’s because Governor Janklow made it a priority to provide low regulatory burdens and an advantageous tax environment. Between these, skills training, and the research available at South Dakota’s universities and tech schools, I believe we have all the necessary ingredients to recruit a new industry – we just have to pursue it, and I see a targeted role for GOED in that effort.

And while we recruit new business, we’ll also invest in the businesses putting South Dakotans to work today, helping them grow from five employees to 10, 50, or more.

I hope someday I have the opportunity to run into that mom in the grocery store again. Things have gotten better, families have gotten stronger, and the best days are still to come.

Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: We Don’t Spend Money We Don’t Have

We Don’t Spend Money We Don’t Have
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Every December, the state legislature meets to receive a budget proposal from the governor. This proposal is the starting point for the legislative budget process, which ends with the passage of a budget bill at the end of session in March.

This week, I presented my last budget proposal to the legislature. This year was a little different, because Governor-elect Kristi Noem will be taking office in early January. Eight years ago, after I took office, I presented my own budget proposal, and I know the Governor-elect plans to do the same thing. The purpose of my budget was to provide updated information about revenue and expenses, and to create a starting point for Governor-elect Noem and the new legislature as they begin their work next year.

Over the years, I have applied several core principles to state budgeting:

We don’t spend money we don’t have.

We use one-time revenues only for one-time expenses, and we fund annually recurring expenses with only recurring revenues.

We maintain ten percent budget reserves, and we use those reserves only for emergencies, not to perpetuate overspending.

We conservatively project revenue and expenses. We don’t use accounting gimmicks. We don’t balance by accelerating next year’s income into this year, or by pushing expenses into next year.

We use one-time windfalls to repay debt, build or secure a new asset, or endow an ongoing expense.

And we structurally balance our budget, every year. We balance our budget, not only because our state constitution requires it, but because it is the right thing to do.

Some of those rules might seem like common sense, but there are many states which have departed from these responsible budgeting practices, and they have paid the price for it. Meanwhile, in South Dakota, we have taken several tangible steps to strengthen our financial practices.

In 2012, South Dakota voters passed a constitutional amendment that explicitly required a balanced budget – it passed with 65% of the vote.

In 2014, I proposed and the legislature approved legislation to require more frequent state revenue estimates, to identify any potential revenue shortfalls earlier in the budgeting process.

That same year, I issued an executive order to require the posting of budget metrics on the state website at open.sd.gov to detail monthly expenditures, revenue collections, and cash balances.

In 2014, our state used one-time windfalls to repay, early, $56.4 million in long-term bonds. In 2016, we early repaid another $42.3 million in bonds.

In 2015, the state presented its first long-term financial plan, a five-year capital expenditure plan, and a debt limitation policy. These were initially required by executive order, and then placed into state law. We also placed new limits on the amount of debt that can be issued through the South Dakota Building Authority. We have also accelerated the time it takes each year to complete the state’s audited financial statements.

Last, but certainly not least, South Dakota has fully funded and proactively managed our strong retirement system. Many states have enormous unfunded pension liabilities. South Dakota is a shining star in this area. Our retirement system is 100% funded. Wisconsin and Washington are the only other states that can make this claim. While other states use unrealistic assumptions such as higher rates of return, the South Dakota Retirement system uses realistic assumptions and has made many adjustments over the past several years to assure it stays fully funded over the long term.

As I leave office, South Dakota’s finances are the envy of the nation, and I am pleased to be turning over my office to Governor-elect Noem, who also believes in sound financial management. South Dakota is fortunate that generations of governors and legislators, of both parties, have worked together to keep us on a strong financial footing. I hope we never take that for granted.

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Governor-elect Noem Announces Staff Hires

Governor-elect Noem Announces Staff Hires

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor-elect Kristi Noem today announced a key round of governor’s office staff hires. The following people will begin serving on January 5, 2019.

Senior Advisor

Beth Hollatz will serve the Noem administration as senior advisor. Hollatz, a Watertown resident, previously served as state director for Governor-elect Noem’s congressional office. Additionally, Hollatz functioned as a key advisor on the Kristi for Congress campaign in 2010 and the Kristi for Governor campaign this year. She now serves as the transition team’s inauguration coordinator.

Senior Policy Advisor

Aaron Scheibe will serve the Noem administration as senior policy advisor. Scheibe, a Pierre resident, was previously the deputy commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development where he now serves as interim commissioner. Prior to joining GOED in 2014, Scheibe served for 12 years as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State.

Director of Scheduling 

Megan Goltz will serve the Noem administration as director of scheduling. Goltz, an Estelline native, previously managed scheduling for the Kristi for Governor campaign. She now serves as the transition team’s scheduler.

General Counsel

Tom Hart will serve the Noem administration as general counsel. Hart, a resident of Pierre, currently serves as deputy secretary of the Department of Labor and Regulation. Prior to joining the department in 2014, Hart practiced law in the private sector in Sioux Falls and Pierre.

Press Secretary

Kristin Wileman will serve the Noem administration as press secretary. Wileman, an Aberdeen native, was previously Governor-elect Noem’s press secretary in Washington, D.C.  She now serves as the transition team’s spokesperson.

Policy Analyst

Kennedy Noem will serve the Noem administration as a policy analyst. Noem, a Castlewood resident, previously operated as the Watertown field office director for the Kristi for Governor campaign. She currently serves on the transition team.

“Ronald Reagan once said to surround yourself with the best people you can find. These are some of the best,” said Noem. “These folks will bring a wide variety of perspectives to the table, they’re results-focused, and I know they’ll do everything they can to serve the people of our state. I’m grateful to have them on my team, and I look forward to the way we’ll work together to strengthen South Dakota.”

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With Thune, Rounds Support, Tea and U.S. Highway 83 Receive Critical Infrastructure Grants

With Thune, Rounds Support, Tea and U.S. Highway 83 Receive Critical Infrastructure Grants

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) decision to award the City of Tea’s County Highway 106 project and South Dakota Department of Transportation’s U.S. Highway 83 project $8.7 million and $20 million, respectively, in critical infrastructure funding under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program. Today’s announcement follows multiple requests from the senators to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao for these projects’ funding.

“With the Department of Transportation’s decision to award BUILD grants to the City of Tea and for U.S. Highway 83, which stretches across central South Dakota, our state will receive a significant investment to strengthen and modernize our infrastructure,” said Thune. “While these are localized projects, this puts the entire state and region in a better, stronger position, and I want to thank Secretary Chao for recognizing these opportunities in South Dakota and for her continued focus on rural America.”

“I thank Secretary Chao for recognizing the need to invest in these important infrastructure projects,” said Rounds. “The Highway 106 and Highway 83 projects will not only benefit the surrounding communities, they will allow for increased transport of goods and commodities across the region – a surefire boon to the regional economy.”

The City of Tea plans to move forward with the reconstruction of a portion of Highway 106, located in the southwest Sioux Falls metropolitan area. Since the route from Interstate 29 to 469th Avenue is the community’s primary and commercial and residential transportation thoroughfare, County Highway 106 experiences substantial vehicle traffic each day, creating unsafe driving conditions.

The proposed project in Tea would rebuild the rural, two-lane highway into a four-lane divided highway with limited access. The reconstruction would not only provide important safety upgrades but would also provide a reliable and effective transportation route.

U.S. 83 is a north-south highway cutting across South Dakota and America’s heartland. Once the only paved route stretching from Canada to Mexico, this thoroughfare continues to be an integral part of our National Highway System. Navigating through six states and critical to our nation’s agriculture and energy sectors, access and connectivity enhancements to U.S. Highway 83 are essential to ensuring an efficient transportation network.

South Dakota Department of Transportation plans to move forward with grading, freight climbing lanes, resurfacing, drainage, shoulder work, and other features along 23 miles of U.S. Highway 83. This project is an important component of a longer corridor augmentation along the highway between South Dakota and Nebraska.

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Thune Pays Tribute to Former President George H.W. Bush

Thune Pays Tribute to Former President George H.W. Bush

“Throughout his life, he exemplified the characteristics of the Greatest Generation. Service. Love of country. Humility. Honor.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today paid tribute to former President George H.W. Bush on the Senate floor.

Thune’s speech (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, on Friday, George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States, went to his eternal reward

“His death marks the passing of an era.

“George H.W. Bush was the last president to have served in World War II. 

“He enlisted on his 18th birthday, postponing college to serve his country, and went on to become the youngest pilot in the Navy. 

“During his three years of service, he flew 58 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals. 

“Throughout his life, he exemplified the characteristics of the Greatest Generation 

“Service.

“Love of country.

“Humility.

“Honor.

 “His achievements in public office were significant.

 “As vice president he helped Ronald Reagan turn the economy around and combat the Evil Empire.

 “And as president, he presided over the dissolution of the Soviet Union and helped bring order and stability to the world stage in its aftermath.

 “But through it all he stayed humble and down-to-earth.

 “I saw an article this week with anecdotes from Secret Service agents who had protected President Bush.

 “And what stood out to me the most was the fact that he used to stay in Washington over Christmas so that his Secret Service agents could spend the day with their families.

 “That was the kind of man he was.

 ‘We throw around the term “public service” in government.

 “But for George Bush, that term meant something.

 “‘Public service’ was a real thing for him.

 “Being a congressman, being CIA director, being an ambassador, being president – these weren’t chances to aggrandize himself or burnish his resume.

 “These were chances to serve.

 “To give something back to the country he loved and had fought to protect.

 “President Bush was a statesman, a man of principle who understood that you could speak the truth without demonizing your opponents.

 “He and President Clinton may have been political adversaries, but that didn’t stop him from teaming up with President Clinton to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami. 

“He was also, as every American knows, a devoted family man, a beloved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

“He and his wife Barbara, who died earlier this year, were married for 73 years – the longest marriage of any presidential couple in our nation’s history. 

“The love and affection and friendship between them were palpable.

 “Mr. President, by now I think most Americans have seen the moving image from cartoonist Marshall Ramsey paying tribute to President Bush.

 “In the cartoon, President Bush is depicted as having flown his WWII plane, a TBM Avenger, to heaven.

 “There he joins hands with his beloved daughter Robin and his beloved wife, who says, “We waited for you.”

 “I am sure that their reunion was a joyful one.

 “Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

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“All the murders in SD lead back to the GOED.” Lora Hubbel rides again!

Upon the opening up of the District 9 House seat, one of the commenters (Tara Volesky, actually), raised the question of Governor-elect Noem appointing perpetual candidate Lora Hubbel to the position being vacated by Deb Peters.

This morning, Lora reminds us why Tara’s proposition of her serving in office is akin to suggesting that the Governor appoint Bigfoot to a legislative seat.  Because some things are so outlandish, they dash the credibility of the person uttering them on the rocks.

Lora actually states – a direct quote –  that “All the murders in SD lead back to the GOED.” and that  they are going to steal you mineral and inheritance rights.

And that’s why we have elections. To weed out the people who have no business serving in elected office. Ever.

Smithfield bringing home bacon to Sioux Falls. Mmmm… bacon

Sioux Falls Meat processor Smithfield is upgrading their Sioux Falls operation to meet the nation’s demand for bacon. Hot, crispy smoky bacon:

The old John Morrell and Co. plant in central Sioux Falls will get a face-lift and add 70 jobs as the current owner reacts to Americans’ hunger for bacon.

Smithfield Foods will invest $45 million in its Sioux Falls operations, according to a Thursday announcement from the company.

Read it here

This might be the ‘feel good’ story of the day!