Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: South Dakota Receives Highest Rating Possible From Moody’s

daugaardheader DaugaardSouth Dakota Receives Highest Rating Possible From Moody’s
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

On Friday, February 19, we learned Moody’s has upgraded South Dakota’s lease-revenue bond rating to Aa1. This is great news for South Dakota. Aa1 is the highest rating South Dakota can receive from Moody’s. It is equivalent to the AAA rating we received from Standard & Poor’s last spring.

It took persistent effort for our state to earn this upgrade. Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and Jason Dilges, our state’s Chief Financial Officer, met four times with Moody’s officials, in Pierre and in New York, to discuss South Dakota’s rating. Following their first meeting in 2014, we adopted a number of new financial practices. These included annually issuing a debt affordability report, a long-term financial plan and a capital expenditure plan, to accompany the voters’ approval of a balanced budget amendment to our state constitution.

In large part, the upgrade is a result of our budgetary practices. In 2011 we dealt with a structural deficit without raising taxes or spending reserve funds. Each year thereafter, we have continued that stewardship by projecting our revenues and expenses with caution, so if we err, we err on the side of a surplus not a deficit. In 2014, after receiving an unexpected windfall, we used the money to retire bonds early and to pay cash for our new veterans’ home rather than borrowing.

These practices combined with high reserve levels, low debt and zero unfunded pension liability led Moody’s to award South Dakota the highest credit rating.

This upgrade is not just a symbolic victory for South Dakota. There are tangible benefits flowing from an upgrade. Although our constitution prohibits debt, the South Dakota Building Authority and the vocational education program within the South Dakota Health Education Facilities Authority borrow to finance public construction projects like state park improvements and public university dormitories. The upgrades we have received from S&P and Moody’s not only give the financial markets affirmation of our state’s exceptional credit worthiness, but also save substantial amounts in future interest payments. That means our AAA and Aa1 ratings will bring savings for universities, state parks and, ultimately, taxpayers.

As the nation and some states have experienced downgrades, South Dakota’s rating increases are indications that we’re on the right track. We don’t spend money we don’t have. We keep our budget in structural balance. We are frugal and seize opportunities to spend in the short term where it can lead to savings, efficiencies or better government in the long term.

We work hard to keep our state on a firm financial footing, and this is just the latest example of how that stewardship is paying dividends.


Al Novstrup will be back in the State Senate

State Representative Al Novstrup is not sitting still. With his son David taking a pass on running for the State Senate, Novstrup announced to SDWC today that he is “running for the Senate and will put in my petitions this week.”

Novstrup is a veteran legislator, and has managed to face down experienced democrat candidates in previous elections.

This year, Novstrup faces new Aberdeen resident Cory Heidelberger, who most recently ran for city commission a matter of days after arriving to townships past year, only to withdraw from the contest days prior to his eventual loss.

From Facebook: Janette McIntyre to primary Jeff Partridge

According to facebook this AM, Janette McIntyre is apparently circulating a petition to take on State Representative Jeff Partridge, who had already announced he’s running for the District 34 State Senate Seat.


It also seems that there’s possibly a group (I suspect Howie Minions) who are recruiting challengers to some of the open seats. I’m not sure why, as to my knowledge, Jeff Partridge would be the opposite of a liberal.

Regardless, Janette will be out to get your John Henry. (So, get your steel-driving men out?)

A post script to the Christopher P. Svarstad story. They Will Not Be Distracted.

I just received the following email in response to Christopher P. Svarstad story; the candidate from Yankton with the rap sheet as long as my arm.. who apparently is trapped in the 1950s with his terminology for African-Americans.


I’m Garret Wright spokesman for Chris Svarstad for District 18 House.

We’re responding to your recent post:

These kind of attacks are not surprising. This is exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away people of all parties. We’re not going to be distracted. Chris Svarstad has a message, that government isn’t working right and that it’s too intrusive. People want solutions, not just idle rhetoric. That’s what we’re going to talk about.

What? Apparently the candidate’s familiarity with our court system has somehow become divisive politics on my part? My dear readers, as you might suspect, I wasn’t going to let that one go.

Thank you for your note.

I will make sure I get it posted on Dakota War College this afternoon.

Not because I believe there’s an ounce of sincerity behind the statement, but it is absolutely, hands down, the funniest damn thing I have read all day.

I’m sure readers will giggle as much as I am right now.

I even got a response.

Ok. We’re not going to be distracted. Thanks

Good to hear they’re not going to be distracted. Now if they would just consider reality.


I think I hit a nerve. Since writing the original story, Svarstad has taken a big ax to his social media, heavily redacting his linked in profile, and erased his “business page” with wild claims of being a political consultant.

He also erased and replaced a personal website page of his with one attacking me in any number of legally actionable ways.  But, that’s a chat for myself and an attorney. In the meantime, if you look at his Facebook page (where he deleted the post where he called a CNN reporter a “fat Negro”), there is an attack on me that’s funny:

Apparently I’ve gone downhill since Governor George Mickelson used to read me.  Never mind he was killed in a plane crash in 1993, over twenty years before I started writing. Although, it’s good to hear that he liked it.

And someone explain to me how noting those arrest notices from the newspaper were lies?  Darn arrests. They must have gotten the wrong guy.

It’s going to be a long election for someone.  Not me, but for someone…

Dems pick up Yankton candidate for House of Representatives… If they want him, that is. (Updated)

(Update – apparently, I missed a drug paraphernalia arrest that was noted in the court dispositions for late October, 2014 in the Yankton Press and Dakotan  -PP)

State Democrats picked up a candidate yesterday in Yankton – Christopher P. Svarstad – for the State House of Representatives. The bad thing (for Dems) is that this is the first thing that comes up when I google him.

Ouch, that’s kind of bad.  And apparently it isn’t the only reference to Mr. Svarstad enjoying the company of the local law enforcement, according to the Yankton Press and Dakotan.

December 17, 2014 – Christopher Svarstad, 26, Yankton, was arrested Tuesday on multiple failure to comply warrants.

October 22, 2014 (Court Disposition) – Christopher Patrick Svarstad, 200 E. 15th St. #4, Yankton; Use or possession of drug paraphernalia, $270

September 25, 2014 – Christopher Svarstad, 26, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for failure to comply with a sentence.

August 4, 2014 – • Christopher Svarstad, 26, Yankton, was arrested Saturday for violation of a protection order.

January 25, 2013 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant.

January 9, 2013 – • Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Tuesday on a warrant for second-degree petty theft.

October 17, 2012 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant.

August 18, 2012 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Thursday for second-degree petty theft.

June 8, 2012 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for failure to comply/second-degree petty theft.

October 21, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday for second-degree petty theft

October 1, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Thursday for tampering with a motor vehicle and second-degree petty theft.

July 22, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday for violation of a protection order.

July 19, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Sunday for simple assault.

May 19, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Tuesday for disturbing the peace.

(With a rap sheet like this, he’s sure to have the Cory Heidelberger endorsement any day.)

If you check out Svarstad’s Linked In profile, we start going even further down the rabbit hole, as his party allegiances tend to bounce around a bit. According to what he’s put on Linked In, not only is he claiming he was an “Intern” for Rounds for US Senate, he’s been a “Senior Advisor” for Bernie Hunhoff for Senate for the past 2 years.

Except according to the Rounds campaign person I spoke with, from a quick glance, they didn’t see any record of him ever having been on the payroll. So, they’re not quite sure where this “Internship” thing comes from, unless it’s was at the branch office of “Rounds for Senate” Svarstad was organizing in his head.  (Update, I spoke with Bernie as well, and it’s about the same thing).

So, long rap sheet (and that’s what was in the paper), and resume items that are not only unconfirmed but refuted. Another quality candidate brought to you by Ann Tornberg’s South Dakota Democrat party.

Bonus Svarstad item!   In case you were going to say “but that was all in the past…”


Thoughts on the Senate Passing Legislation to Ban Internet Taxes. John Thune just saved South Dakota taxpayers $15 Million

This week the President signed into law legislation authored by South Dakota’s US Senator John Thune known as the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). By permanently barring state and local government from taxing access to the Internet, ITFA is a huge victory for both consumers and small businesses.

Over 10,000 different state and local taxing jurisdictions across the country apply high tax rates on communications services. While state tax rates generally run at approximately seven percent, telephone and cable services are taxed at a rate of 17% and 12% respectively. If the Internet is taxed in the same way, consumers would be burdened with an excessive 25% in total taxes on communications services.

Since the early days of the Internet, Congress had passed a series of bills temporarily preventing state and local governments from applying these extremely high taxes to Internet access.  As noted by the Internet Tax Freedom Act Coalition:

Originally enacted in 1998, and extended seven times with overwhelming bipartisan support, ITFA has protected most consumers from paying state and local taxes on their Internet access services. It has also protected Internet commerce from multiple and discriminatory taxation. Without this legislation, Internet access would likely be subject to the high rates of taxation currently imposed on traditional telecommunication services – which are often taxed at rates more than double those imposed on other goods and services. A threat made even more imminent after the FCC’s reclassification of broadband services as a telecommunications service.

Read that here.

South Dakota is one of seven states that have collected Internet taxes. For South Dakotans, combined state and local internet taxes cost about $15 million a year. So it is no surprise that ITFA garnered support from a broad collection of lawmakers, manufacturers, and technology companies. These seven states now have until summer of 2020 to phase out their taxes.

Cost is a huge factor in determining whether or not consumers are able to access the Internet. Making Internet services more affordable will help fuel economic growth in our state connecting more budding entrepreneurs to new markets domestically and abroad. There are a lot more potential Internet entrepreneurs in our state than little old me.  The Internet can help us become our own success story.

Eliminating the Internet tax also opens a gateway to educational opportunities and better healthcare services to more consumers regardless of income or residence.

South Dakotans everywhere should congratulate and thank Senator Thune for his strong leadership to engender the necessary support to get this legislation across the finish line. The result will be higher broadband adoption rates among consumers and a ‘net’ win for all Americans.

Sioux Falls blogger Scott Ehrisman says cops are “piggies” who stuff themselves on free meals.

In one of America’s most dangerous cities, the local police have somehow raised the ire of local Sioux Falls gadfly Scott Ehrisman who spent yesterday attacking Sioux Falls patrolmen for no reason, referring to them as “pigs” like it was the 1960’s:

…the hospital can afford to give thousands of dollars a month out in FREE meals to PUBLIC employees (SFPD) who park directly in front of the property involved (to go feed their faces on sick and dying people’s money). In between loading their bullet proof vests with multiple cartons of milk and feeding their faces on the private health dime…


Can’t afford to patrol it? Maybe give a couple of extra monster cookies to the piggies and ask them to go over and ‘butt’ these people away.

Read it here.

Apparently, Scott Ehrisman calling public safety officers “piggies” is what passes for polite discourse in Sioux Falls nowadays. When what he should be doing is thanking them for putting their lives on the line every single day. 

Amazing. And a good reminder for the rest of us to thank a cop for what they do.

Legislative happenings… Stalzer to Senate.

If you were wondering what’s happening in upcoming elections, There’s been a little action in legislative filings in recent weeks.

Jim Stalzer is moving from the House to the Senate in District 11, replacing Senator Omdahl. Dan Kaiser has filed petitions to run again for the House. 

 Long-time Potter County GOP activist John Lake is joining Charlie Hoffman in running for a pair of open seats in District 23. I’d watch for more to come there, but Lake will be competitive.

In the Hills, Richard Mounce has filed in District 30, but the biggest news out west is that State Rep Jacqueline Sly has filed for State Senate in District 33 – signaling a primary election slugfest between she and State Senator Phil Jensen. That will be one to watch with likeable Sly coming off a win on education,  versus the controversial Jensen who will likely be backed by fluorescent postcards attacking Sly in any manner possible. 

Stay tuned!