South Dakota does a lot of things right, but our economy is falling behind. In fact, the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis report ranks South Dakota last for both GDP and personal income growth. We can do better. As governor, my goal will be to kickstart our economy – and not through more boards, commissions, or blue ribbon committees. Instead, I will lift the government burden from entrepreneurs, make it easier to work, and create new opportunities for South Dakotans to prosper.
AGENDA: FREEDOM TO BUILD
Maintain South Dakota’s low-tax legacy. The average South Dakota family of four will receive a $2,400 tax cut because of my work with President Trump last year. As one of 5 representatives from the 435-member House to negotiate the final tax reform deal, 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.
Cut unnecessary regulations; Simplify those that remain. South Dakota’s limited regulatory environment is often why we rank as one of the nation’s best places to do business. It’s imperative we keep it that way. I’ve run a farm and ranch, a hunting lodge, and an insurance agency. If elected, I will use those experiences to instill a culture in which agencies think less like bureaucracies and more like the businesses they serve. As I have done every year in public office, I will fight to eliminate nonessential regulations and streamline the necessary administrative rules and statutes that remain – all with the goal of maintaining a level playing field and strengthening South Dakota job creators.
Make it easier to start and grow a business. While South Dakota’s regulatory environment is favorable in many instances, it can still be difficult to know exactly what’s required of a new business and what opportunities are out there to support a company’s growth. With efficiency and convenience in mind, my administration will:
- Employ pro-active people within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, providing them with sufficient training and instilling a culture of customer service;
- Modernize SDReadyToWork.com to significantly simplify the user experience;
- Search for opportunities to optimize convenience within the filing fee system; and
- Review the permitting structure to ensure it promotes economic development and respects local control.
Prioritize education programs that produce job-holders, not degree-holders. For decades, the priorities of employers and educators have failed to fully align. This leaves some young people with limited job prospects in their chosen career fields while many industries face difficulties recruiting skilled labor. If elected, I will work to bring area employers, the South Dakota Department of Education, the Board of Regents, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to the same table, strengthening relationships and focusing discussion around the workforce needs of today and tomorrow. Through this alliance, my administration will:
- Provide career counseling and information for students regarding in-demand jobs beginning at the middle-school level;
- Expand access to experience-driven technical training in high schools to inspire younger workers; and
- Dramatically increase shared-learning opportunities among high schools, technical schools, universities, and employers to better manage the transition from home to college to the South Dakota workforce.
Review state licensing requirements. Whether you’re an accountant, cosmetologist, landscape architect, or plumber, the state requires certain licenses before you can professionally practice your craft. While important in many respects, we must avoid any licensing process that prioritizes a person’s ability to properly fill out paperwork rather than do the job. As governor, I will direct the Department of Labor and Regulation, working with state professional organizations, to conduct a full review of licensing requirements. The review must explore: (1) the potential elimination of unnecessary professional licenses, (2) opportunities to streamline existing processes, including strategies to increase web-based tools, and (3) options to fast-track apprentices, technical school graduates, veterans, and military families, letting experience count so it’s easier to work in South Dakota.
Respect and reward work. Too often, government programs fail to reward work and instead increase dependency. Work requirements, which have been central to the reforms I’ve championed for Medicaid and food stamps, can help reverse that. If elected, I will continue, and look to expand where possible, the work requirements sought by Governor Daugaard. Additionally, I will direct the South Dakota departments of Social Services and Labor and Regulation to develop a pilot program linking able-bodied, non-elderly welfare recipients with the skills training necessary to qualify for good-paying, in-demand jobs.
THE PROSPER INITIATIVE
Invest in what’s made South Dakota great: the businesses already here. Many of South Dakota’s economic development efforts have focused on recruiting new businesses, leaving existing job creators behind. It’s a concern raised in nearly every listening session I’ve held on the topic. If elected, I will direct the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to expand its mission. While attracting the next growth industry should remain a priority, we must also invest in the businesses putting South Dakotans to work today, helping them grow from 5 employees to 10, 50, or more.
Let the country know South Dakota is Open for Business! We are home to an advantageous tax structure, an independent streak that helps keep regulations at a minimum, and a legendary work ethic backed by top-performing universities and technical schools. Through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, I will prioritize the identification and recruitment of America’s next growth industries, launching a new advertising campaign that promotes South Dakota’s winning formula to attract job creators.
Maintain South Dakota’s AAA Bond Rating. A well-functioning state government serves as a strong foundation for economic growth. The current administration was able to upgrade and maintain a AAA Bond Rating across the board. Rooted in fiscal conservatism, my administration will build on this success, making it a priority to retain the AAA rating. While saving taxpayers money, the rating can also be used as a recruiting tool to attract businesses looking for a stable state in which to grow jobs.