After closing out this session and dealing with the budget, I recalled one of the reasons I choose to run for the legislature several years ago. That was the confidence I had in myself to make solid and informed business decisions on behalf of the people of District 24 and all of South Dakota. Although I didn’t serve on the appropriations committee, I understood the realities of our state’s income sources, acknowledged the core responsibilities and costs of government, surmised conditions and positions of our business model and climate, with the goal of making South Dakota stronger was foremost on my mind (and the minds of all seventy of us in the House of Representatives). Make no mistake, getting to a point where we had consensus on spending decisions was difficult (as compared to private business) since we all have the desire to contribute an opinion on what is most prudent for the state. I mention this because the final week was tense, but also rewarding as the dedication of all involved was very apparent. I respect, appreciate, and enjoy all of the talented people (executive and legislative) who worked diligently to make this budget process work.
Thanks to the hard-working South Dakotans who continue to build a vibrant economy, thus yielding robust tax revenues to the state, many accomplishments were realized during the 2023 legislature. As the budget is presented, all South Dakotans will pay less in sales taxes on all purchases of goods and services and businesses will pay less in unemployment taxes all thanks to our state’s strong economy. Substantial increased investments for teachers and schools, state employees, and Medicaid providers are in the budget so we can retain and attract a professional work force that will continue to provide promised services to our citizens. To keep our youth in South Dakota, the legislature expanded the merit-based opportunity scholarship, provided 100% tuition reimbursement for National Guardsmen, and froze tuition rates at our Tech Schools and Universities.
As my third session ends with veto day (March 27th), I want to convey my thoughts of South Dakota’s citizen legislature and the dedication to service I see firsthand. I marvel at the cross section of people, personalities, principles, and professions that yield opinions and positions, and it’s hard to imagine unless you have been around the legislature. Nobody does it for the monetary compensation or notoriety. It’s a call to service with the desire to share one’s experiences, knowledge, and judgement that contribute to good public policy for the state we love. The representatives elected to leadership positions are charged with organizing and delegating the members to committees and positions where they can best use their talents. I have been very impressed with Speaker Bartels, Majority Leader Mortenson, and Minority Leader Lesmeister this year. They have directed and lead our House of Representatives to a state of productive, efficient, and respectful decorum that I hadn’t seen in previous sessions. Many thanks to them and to my fellow members of the House of Representatives for a rewarding and successful session.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 24, it has been an honor of a lifetime.