Let's Talk about the "Big Three"

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Let’s Talk about the “Big Three”


By: Governor Kristi Noem

December 8, 2023


I recently presented my budget to the South Dakota State Legislature. It’s a budget that prioritizes people, not programs. It shows what can be done with smart, conservative fiscal policies. And it focuses on the core responsibilities of state government.


South Dakota has reaped the benefits of conservative policies. Our economy has continued to grow, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t felt the effects of the record-high inflation brought on by federal policies. This year, as we face a more “normal” budget year, I am encouraging the legislature to do exactly what families across America are doing every single day – stick to a tight budget.


National inflation has continued to rise over the past year. State law requires that we increase funding to our K-12 schools at inflation or 3%, whichever is lower. We typically provide the same increase to our healthcare providers and state employees – together, they make the “Big Three.” Well, this year, I am recommending that we go above and beyond the legal requirement. I am proposing that we provide a 4% increase for education, healthcare providers, and state employees.


We are only going to be able to accomplish this increase if we make sure we have our priorities straight. Well, I know where my priorities lie – and it’s with the people of South Dakota.


There’s a reason why the “Big Three” is the “Big Three.” They are the ones who give back to our communities across the state. They are the ones putting in the hard work to make our state the best that it can be. And they are the ones that are creating a better South Dakota for our kids and our grandkids.


By investing 4% in our schools, we will give our school districts the money to pay teachers more. Our teachers are one of the most important factors to set our kids up for a lifetime of success. And we can retain great teachers by paying them what they deserve.


If we want to give our kids the very best opportunity to succeed, we need to set them up for a healthy future.


The 4% increase for our providers is an important step to promote good health for South Dakotans at every age and state of life. This is an increase that doesn’t pick winner and losers. Inflation is impacting all of our providers, so we should provide them all with the relief they so desperately need.


Some of our kids will want to join careers in our state workforce. We need to support our state employees who do so much for the people of South Dakota. They work every day to make this state safer, stronger, and healthier. My budget proposal gives a 4% raise to state employees so that we can continue to attract and retain the best and brightest.


We have the opportunity to show the world what is possible with good, conservative policies – policies that prioritize our kids and our grandkids.


I do not go to work every day for myself. I go to work to serve the people that make this state great. They inspire me. And I pray that we deliver a budget that they can be proud of – a budget that puts them first.