Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Christmas Comes Early In South Dakota

Christmas Comes Early In South Dakota
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

daugaard2The Christmas season is a time of giving. We give of our time to volunteer for worthy causes. We give of our money through donations to charitable efforts. And of course, we give Christmas gifts to our loved ones.

This year, South Dakota has received two generous Christmas gifts that will have a lasting impact on our state.

One gift will look to the future, by creating new opportunities for young people. T. Denny Sanford is donating $25 million to create the “Build Dakota” scholarship program. A state Future Fund grant will match the donation, creating a $50 million scholarship fund.

T. Denny Sanford is one of the nation’s leading philanthropists, and over the years he has shown a strong commitment to improving the lives of young people. I first met Denny because of his generosity to Children’s Home Society, and since that time he has made transformational gifts in healthcare, underground research and education. This is yet another transformational gift that will benefit South Dakota and our young people.

Build Dakota will award approximately 300 full scholarships to students who enroll in a high-need workforce field at one of South Dakota’s four technical institutes. The scholarships will cover tuition, fees, books and equipment costs. In return, students will be asked to stay in South Dakota and work in their field for three years after graduating.

South Dakota has the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation. While I am very proud of that, it can be a double-edged sword. I have heard many times from business owners that they struggle to find qualified workers, and this shortage makes it difficult for businesses to expand and accept new customers. The state has partnered with communities, businesses and educational institutions to address workforce needs, and Build Dakota is a major step toward addressing this challenge.

South Dakota received a second “Christmas gift” from Norm and Eunabel McKie and their family. The McKie’s are donating $1 million to erect a 45-foot stainless steel statue, overlooking the Missouri River at Chamberlain. The sculpture, entitled “Dignity,” will portray a Native American woman receiving a star quilt. Sculptor Dale Lamphere calls the monument “a tribute to the strong traditions of Native people.”

Just as the Sanford donation is looking to the future, the McKie family is honoring South Dakota’s past and the people who make this state great. The “Dignity” monument will honor our Native Americans and remind us of the pride and courage that they have shown throughout our history, often in difficult circumstances. It will also remind us of the McKie family, who came to South Dakota as pioneers and built a successful business over several generations.

The “Dignity” monument will be visible to millions of drivers who cross the Missouri River bridge on Interstate 90 each year, and for that reason I believe that South Dakota, already known as the state of Rushmore and Crazy Horse, will become known as well as the state of “Dignity.”

This Christmas season, we can be thankful for the generosity of T. Denny Sanford and the McKie family, and for the impact that their gifts will have on our state. But we can also be thankful that they are not the exception – South Dakota has thousands and thousands of people who give of themselves to help their neighbors and to make our state a better place. It’s a Christmas gift that we all can cherish.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardIt’s a busy week in South Dakota. There are Christmas gatherings to attend, cards to be sent and presents yet to be purchased. In schedules more hectic than usual, many of us will make time to honor our own Christmas traditions – from decorating the Christmas tree, to watching a particular Christmas movie, to singing carols or baking treats. In many families, one tradition is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is the story of George Bailey who repeatedly chooses to sacrifice his own dreams, so that he can help others. When his father dies, George surrenders his plans to travel the world, instead taking his late father’s job at a small bank. The town scrooge, Mr. Potter, wants to shut down the bank and ultimately frames George for funds lost by George’s inept Uncle Billy.

The circumstances lead George to wish he had never been born. A guardian angel grants that wish, and then shows George what life in Bedford Falls would have been if George had never existed. All the people he had helped were worse off and two died prematurely because George had never been born. His wife never married nor had children. And the villain, Mr. Potter, ruled the entire town because no one kept him in check.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that the work of changing the world is solely the realm of elected officials. But I think it’s the every-day kind of people like George Bailey who make the real difference.

The things that South Dakotans do best, like lending a helping hand to a neighbor and putting others first, are the things that effect positive change. The man that shovels his neighbor’s driveway, the little girl who gives her allowance to the bell ringer and the church that opens its doors to someone without shelter – they’re the ones with the real power.

We’re all busy, especially during this time of year. But find time this Christmas, if only in a small way, to be a George Bailey to someone in need.  I’m sure you won’t regret it. Don’t underestimate the immense value of your life and the difference you can make. It truly is a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas.


South Dakota pokes at Mayor of Chicago’s refusal to allow South Dakota Airport ads; South Dakota Not Taking Chicago’s No for An Answer

South Dakota Not Taking Chicago’s No for An Answer
Using Newspaper Ad to Showcase Difficulty of Doing Business in the Windy City

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is firing back at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city hall officials who said the state could not advertise certain messages in the Chicago O’Hare Airport.

“We want companies to know that doing business is easy in South Dakota,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Our experience in Chicago has made us realize just how important that is.”

In August, the GOED launched the second phase of its “Where Big Things Happen” branding and business recruitment campaign in Minneapolis and Chicago.

GOED Commissioner Pat Costello says part of the campaign strategy includes three large tension fabric banners placed just outside of a security area in Chicago O’Hare Airport.

“The initial messages on the banners—‘No Government Pat Downs,’ ‘Keep Your Change in Your Pockets’ and ‘We’re Hands Off When it Comes to Business’—were meant to juxtapose the ease of doing business in our state with the hassles of air travel,” said Costello. “After seeing the banners, Chicago airport authorities asked us to submit new messaging that did not seem to conflict with TSA regulations.”

The GOED revised the banners to say “Our Economy is First Class,” “Prepare Your Business For Take Off” and “Keep Your Change in Your Pockets.” That set of ads was then forwarded to Chicago city officials.

“A short time later we were informed by our airport advertising representative that the Mayor and the city were no longer allowing South Dakota, or any other state tourism or economic development entity, to advertise in the airport,” Costello said.

He says the GOED was told that Mayor Emanuel was upset by messages aimed at pulling business away from Chicago. Eventually, city officials reversed the decision but said South Dakota had to change its message.

“They thought ‘Keep The Change in Your Pockets’ was too aggressive so we resubmitted the ad with the message ‘Keep Your Profits.’ When we were told our ‘Keep Your Profits’ banner was not acceptable, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to showcase exactly why companies should move or expand to South Dakota,” said Gov. Daugaard. “In South Dakota, profit isn’t a dirty word and what better way to tell companies than with a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune.”

Three new banners—“Our Economy is First Class,” “Prepare Your Business For Take Off” and “Build Your Business in South Dakota”—have been approved by the City of Chicago and the airport and are scheduled to post in January 2015.

“While it’s not our original message, we think the new banners, coupled with the Tribune ad, will make an even stronger statement,” Gov. Daugaard said. “We make doing business easy in South Dakota. From our experience, Chicago does not.

The GOED’s business recruitment campaign also includes magazine print ads, digital business and workforce recruitment banners, as well as wall wraps and backlit signs posted in the G Concourse of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.


First Look at the 2015 Daugaard Inaugural Pin

It’s a little blurry, but the South Dakota Inaugural Ticket Website provides us the first look at the 2015 Inaugural Pin for re-elected Governor Dennis Daugaard.


Order the pin (and tickets to the inaugural ball) at

The pin continues the trend set by the Rounds first inaugural pin where the first lady is featured on the pin. Prior to that, I believe the Pins had featured the Governor only, except for one of the Kneip inaugurations that had featured his Lt. Governor Harvey Wollman. A couple of the earlier pins featured no Gubernatorial portrait at all.

Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: A Budget Based On Steady Growth

A Budget Based On Steady Growth
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

daugaard2Earlier this month, I presented my proposed budget to the state Legislature for the coming fiscal year.

Our constitution requires the governor to propose a balanced budget to the Legislature each December, prior to the legislative session in January. I’m proud that our budget is balanced every year. I am particularly proud that our budget is structurally balanced – meaning that our ongoing expenses do not exceed our ongoing revenues.

South Dakota has a healthy and growing economy. Over the past few years, we have recovered quickly from the recession. In fact, South Dakota recovered all the jobs lost during the recession two years before the United States did. We have also enjoyed strong years in the agricultural economy.

This year, as the rest of the nation emerges from the recession and catches up with South Dakota, our economic growth has returned to a more stable and predictable level.

A steady economy means slow but steady growth in state revenues. While the law requires that schools receive an inflationary increase of 1.5 percent this year, I was able to propose a budget that does a little better, increasing school funding by 2 percent. The proposed budget also increases reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers by 2 percent, and increases state employee salaries by 2 percent.

Although there isn’t money for big new programs or lots of new spending this year, I was pleased to propose a few increases in key areas.

I am proposing a 30 percent increase in the value of the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, from $5,000 to $6,500 over four years. This is the first increase since the scholarship was created over a decade ago, and it will help encourage more students to take a rigorous high school curriculum and to stay in South Dakota after high school.

Two years ago, I joined with the Chief Justice and legislative leaders to propose and pass a major reform of our adult criminal justice system. This reform is already paying dividends, as we maintain public safety, hold offenders more accountable and save money. This year, I am proposing to continue that success with new drug and DUI courts. I am also proposing funding to enact similar reforms in our juvenile justice system.

The budget also includes funds to continue the dual credit program I proposed last year. This program allows high school juniors and seniors to take university or technical institute courses, and earn both high school and college credit, for $40 per credit. The program succeeded beyond our highest hopes, with enrollment trending toward three times that which was projected. That is great news for our young people and I’m asking for funds to pay for that growth.

Many people have good ideas about how and where the state can spend additional dollars to make South Dakota stronger. At the same time, we have to remember that our state is in a strong financial position today because we don’t spend money that we don’t have. I look forward to a good debate about the proposed budget with the Legislature and the public over the next few months.


Daugaard: “On Transportation Funding, every good discussion begins with a specific proposal.”

daugaard2Today in the budget address, shortly after the Governor spoke about the S&P index upgrading South Dakota’s financial outlook from ‘Stable’ to ‘Positive,”  he touched on the Highway Finding proposal that was mentioned in my previous post.

The Governor noted “Regarding transportation funding, every good discussion begins with a specific proposal.” and “I applaud the committee for putting together their proposal. That gives us something to discuss that’s concrete. And I know we’re going to have lots of debate about that. I agree with them, that this is a year that we need to act, to adequately fund our roads.

Governor Daugaard was very appreciative with his thanks for the committee starting the discussion and making the proposal. He agreed that we need to invest in maintaining our infrastructure – which he has been bullish on during his previous term – maintaining what we’ve got. But he also stopped short of endorsing the specific funding plan itself.

I get the sense that there’s a commitment to make the repairs. And why not? Investment into our infrastructure isn’t a bad thing. Aside from the cost, it pumps a lot of money into our state economy, and we all reap the benefits in employment and sales tax.

But it also sounds like the funding plan as it exists is going to be tough sell.

So, aside from doing it based on the proposed tax increases, or not doing it because they might be too difficult to sell – what’s the third way?

Because If you look at state history – the third way is where visionary leadership comes into play. Bill Janklow did it with the railroads (and wiring the schools). George Mickelson did it with economic development. Mike Rounds did it with the Homestake Lab.

Could solving the highway conundrum be where Dennis Daugaard carves his name into state history?

The awful campaigns of Joe Lowe & Susan Wismer. Not even close to a Billion.

Susan Wismer tweeting ironically today:

Yeah… it looks like all three are mobbing her.

This is just awful. But if you check out Joe Lowe’s campaign, he’s not much better. It’s clawing it’s way towards mediocrity as well.

You have to keep in mind that these two Democrats fighting to the top of the Democrat’s sacrificial altar are a far cry from the candidates that the SDDP has put forth before.

In fact, let’s take a look at the last time the Democrats had a primary for Governor – in 2006. The victorious candidate was Jack Billion. Here’s what his pre-primary report noted:

Jack Billion Pre-Primary

A good chunk of it was a loan from himself, but he put over $167,000 into the race these 8 years ago, with 65k being raised.

Wismer’s tally? $22,496 raised:

Wismer Preprimary

And how ‘Lowe’ did Joe go? $33,497:

Lowe Preprimary

$22,000 & $33,000…. these aren’t numbers put up by candidates running for statewide office. These are numbers put up by people running for the State Legislature. Even put together, they didn’t hit what Billion raised, and that’s minus what he put into it himself.

Sorry, but it’s hard to take these candidates seriously when it seems they don’t take their races seriously.

After the primary, Billion struggled to gain traction against Republican incumbent Mike Rounds, after running his primary election in a serious manner, and then trying to press the attack against the Republicans.

If he couldn’t do it running a real Gubernatorial race, it remains to be seen how after running an awful primary contest, either Lowe or Wismer can make any headway against a very popular Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard, who is at the peak of his game.

Governor Daugaard kicks off his campaign with commercials on television, and You Tube.

The Daugaard campaign kicked their primary election effort off today with two tv commercials today focusing on the accomplishments of his first term of office:

And just as the Rounds campaign has started doing, I’m also informed that Governor Daugaard is also taking his message to the Internet. Similar to what the Rounds campaign has done, Daugaard will also be tagging you tube with targeted advertisements.

You can watch these commercials and more at the Governor’s You Tube website at

Governor Daugaard on Phil Jensen: “Comments… completely out of line with South Dakota values.”

From Kevin Woster at Keloland online (Kevin-land?), Woster had a note from Governor Daugaard in reference to the Phil Jensen comments which some say crossed the line into bigotry:

And also check out this reaction to what Jensen said from Gov. Dennis Daugaard, obtained…  by email earlier today….

“I found his comments to be completely out of line with South Dakota values,” Daugaard said in the quote. “I don’t agree with him and I haven’t talked to anyone who does.”

Read it here.

Is it time for Jensen resign over his statements? And if he refuses, what then?