For the People
By: Governor Kristi Noem
March 10, 2023
There’s a perception that South Dakota’s future is charted in Pierre. That’s where big decisions get made; where Governors have taken historic actions; where legislators go every winter to represent the people and vote. But that perception misses our state’s foundational principle, our beautiful slogan: “Under God, the People Rule.” As elected leaders, when we make those decisions and cast those votes, we must do it on behalf of the people.
The wonderful men and women across the state of South Dakota are the ones who actually chart our future. They each take actions every day for the sake of their family, their small business, or their community. They get up, drive the kids to school, go to work, buy their groceries, put food on the table, and lay their heads down at night. And in the process, they are each individually building the greatest state in America.
When I make decisions, I don’t pretend to be smarter or wiser than our people. I don’t see myself as making decisions that they cannot. Instead, my job is to make it easier for South Dakotans to make decisions for themselves. As elected leaders, we must create a level playing field that provides Freedom and Opportunity for each and every South Dakotan. And every winter in Pierre, one of the most important decisions we make is how we will lay out the state’s budget.
When we pass that budget, we have to deliver on our responsibilities to take care of people. But we must also have respect for money that does not belong to us. It belongs to the people. When opportunity comes to return some of that money to the people, we should do so. When the option presents itself to spend less of the people’s money, we should pursue that option, too. After all, the people know better than we do what their own needs are. They understand how best their own money can be spent to take care of their loved-ones and their communities.
This year, some elected leaders in Pierre made different decisions. They chose to spend more of the people’s money than I recommended, including on new programs. And they decided to deliver a temporary tax holiday to the people, rather than a permanent tax cut. I still believe that the best budget option for our state’s future is the one that I presented in December, including the elimination of the sales tax on groceries. And in the coming weeks, I will have to decide whether the budget that has been presented to me is worthy of my signature.
In making that decision, I will be weighing what is best for our people. This decision is not about me, and it’s not about the elected representatives in Pierre. It’s about the folks who we serve, the folks who rule: the people of the great state of South Dakota.