By Governor-elect Kristi Noem
Eight years ago, I boarded a plane and walked into the United States Capitol as a freshman member of Congress. I had little idea of what the next years would hold, but I had a long to-do list of things I wanted to accomplish for our state.
Working in Washington had its ups and downs. I was often frustrated by partisan bickering and political showboating, yet every day, I was reminded of the importance of embodying South Dakota values and working hard to represent everything our state stands for. I’m proud of the work I accomplished in DC, but I didn’t go to make a career out of Washington. I went to work hard and produce real results for South Dakota. And we’ve done that.
During my time in Congress, I was honored to fight for South Dakota in two five-year Farm Bills and help negotiate the largest tax cut in U.S. history that increases an average South Dakota family’s after-tax income by $2,400. These bills have been life-changing for so many of our communities and have been instrumental in creating stronger families and stronger futures for many in our state.
I’ve also worked to be an advocate for South Dakota veterans. Earlier this year, I led Congress in passing legislation that added 200 acres to the Black Hills National Cemetery, securing a permanent peaceful resting place for the next generation of veterans. Additionally, I stood up to folks who tried to shut down the Hot Springs VA hospital, expanded the VA’s internal capacity to provide timely care to veterans, pushed for increased transparency to combat incompetent or corrupt managers, and improved education benefits for veterans and their dependents. We must continue to show our gratitude to the men and women who’ve selflessly defended our freedoms with improved policies and benefits.
What’s more, I was able to push bills that crack down on human trafficking and websites that facilitate sex sales. Work continues on legislation I designed to expand housing opportunities for trafficking survivors, especially those who require stronger security protocols and different support services. My legislation is aimed to extend not only transitional housing, but also healing and hope to more survivors. I look forward to continuing my work with this at the state level. Our kids are not for sale.
I’ve also made it my mission to bring into the national spotlight the mismanagement and poor care delivered by the failing Indian Health Service (IHS). Throughout my time in Congress, I introduced numerous bills to provide accountability and reformation to the IHS, and there is much more to be done in this arena. As governor, I will aggressively pursue solutions that fulfill treaty obligations when it comes to healthcare. We cannot sit back while tribal members lose their lives as a result of bureaucratic failings.
Thank you for your support and encouragement over the last eight years – it’s meant the world to me and my family. It was one of the greatest honors of my life to represent South Dakota in our nation’s capital, and I’m so grateful to bring that experience home. South Dakota has always been my heart, and I’ll forever be thankful for the opportunity you’ve given me to make it an even stronger place for the next generation.