My husband, Bryon, and I are blessed with three incredible kids, who are surrounded by aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents that love them and continually invest in their education and upbringing. Our faith and that strong family unit has helped us get through the tough times, and in many respects, compelled me to leave college after my dad’s death, return to the farm and ranch full-time, and dedicate my life to building on the dreams my parents had for their children.
We share this family-focused mentality with many in the state, which is one of the things that makes South Dakota so special. It’s a value we must fight to preserve, however, as recent cultural shifts are weakening households and often inserting government where family should be. But I’m committed to being a family-first governor, fighting to strengthen the family unit and preserve the values South Dakota has long embraced.
Defend family values from the very beginning. I am pro-life, something my record will always reflect. In Congress, where I earned a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life, I’ve worked to systematically toughen abortion laws, supporting a full abortion ban as well as the Heartbeat Protection Act while getting the House to pass a prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks. I continue to work toward fully defunding Planned Parenthood but was thrilled President Trump signed legislation I helped champion so states aren’t forced to give family-planning dollars to abortion providers. With a newly appointed pro-life justice on the Supreme Court, I’m optimistic we are on the cusp of securing permanent protections for the unborn. As governor, I want to make sure South Dakota can play a leading role in that effort, a commitment that’s earned the endorsement of the conservative Susan B. Anthony List. If elected, I will:
- Assign an Unborn Person Advocate within the governor’s office to monitor, report, and recommend legislative and policy changes;
- Actively pursue all available legislative options to stop abortion and protect the lives of unborn babies;
- Oppose any efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide; and
- Work to proactively defend South Dakota’s pro-life policies, engaging the top legal minds to litigate on behalf of our values, if necessary.
Protect religious liberty and traditional marriage. Marriage is a special, God-given union between one man and one woman. With the drop of a gavel, however, the Supreme Court attempted to silence those of us who believe in traditional marriage. As governor, I will defend our culture and values, fighting federal intrusion on our deeply held beliefs and working to protect the religious liberties of individuals and businesses.
Decrease dependency by making it easier for parents to work. It can be incredibly powerful for kids to see their parents provide for their family. Unfortunately, many of today’s programs perpetuate dependency instead of incentivizing work. To put that another way, we make it easy to sign up for programs, but difficult to qualify for a good-paying job. I want to change that as governor. More specifically, I will:
- Encourage flexibility for parents pursuing new skills at South Dakota tech schools and universities. I wasn’t able to finish my college degree until after our kids were born, so I understand how hard it can be to parent, work, and go to school at the same time. To ensure parents can get the qualifications needed for a good-paying job, I will work with South Dakota universities and tech schools to offer options for more flexible course loads.
- Help give parents the support needed to choose the child care that fits their family structure. For many families, child care is not an option, but a necessity – and an expensive one at that. In fact, about one of every four dollars a South Dakota family earns goes to child care. When negotiating tax reform, I ensured a portion of these costs could be deducted from your federal income taxes. As governor, I will take a comprehensive approach to reducing the financial strain of childcare, exploring options to alleviate certain licensing and regulatory costs, increase the number of childcare providers, and better support evidence-driven early education programs.
- Strengthen work requirements. A good job is the best poverty-reduction tool. Work requirements, which have been central to the reforms I’ve championed for Medicaid and food stamps, are an essential tool in encouraging work. If elected, I will continue, and look to expand where possible, the work requirements sought by Governor Daugaard.
- Increase child support accountability. There are far too many cases of noncustodial parents avoiding child support requirements. As governor, I will encourage the legislature to strengthen accountability measures. We cannot allow parents to shirk their parental responsibilities.
Recognize good parenting is a learned skill. Too often, public policies attempt to fill parenting gaps with government. Conservatives, however, understand these gaps are best filled by the parents themselves. With that in mind, I am focused on strategies that simply help parents be parents again. I’d like to expand family education programs to better prevent domestic violence and intervene before it occurs in the home. My administration would also encourage high schools to invest in family and consumer science programs, sharing the value of strong family units and building an understanding of the responsibilities that come with a household.
Respect parental rights. When it comes to raising kids, family is better than government. As a conservative, I will protect the rights of parents to choose the educational path that’s best for their child, whether it’s public schooling, homeschooling, or a private education. Regardless of a family’s decision, I will work to ensure all students have equal opportunity within the education system.
Support military family readiness programs. The South Dakota National Guard is renowned for its outstanding family readiness programs, earning top honors nationally in five of the last six years. As governor, I will continue to support the South Dakota National Guard and work through state agencies, local communities, and military families to expand these critical programs and help ensure the family unit doesn’t suffer during a parent’s deployment.
Expand residential and family-based drug treatment options. Prevention is critical, but when drug treatment programs are necessary, those that keep families together and children out of foster care have proven to produce more effective outcomes in some cases. As governor, my administration will work to expand residential and family-based treatment options in South Dakota.
Connect incarcerated moms and dads with parenting education and employment resources. Nearly one in 10 South Dakota kids have had a parent incarcerated at some point during their childhood. As governor, I will work to partner with faith-based groups in order to expand pro-family education opportunities and bonding experiences in our prisons and jails, while offering skills training to help ensure released offenders can support their families upon exiting the criminal justice system.
Make strong families a priority in all government activities. Strong families create strong communities, “nurturing, preserving, and passing on to each succeeding generation the values … that are the foundation of our freedoms,” as President Reagan once said. Because of this understanding, I will not raise taxes on families, grow government, or allow federal bureaucrats to tell us how to live. Family must remain the central figure in our public policy.