Telling a Story of Hope
By: Governor Kristi Noem
July 28, 2023
The United States of America was created because of a sense of hope. Our founders had the hope that one day we would be a nation of greatness, of self-governance, and of Freedom.
In too many communities across America, that hope has diminished. There are Americans who do not believe in our founding principles, who are not patriotic, and who do not have hope for this nation’s future. That could not be further from the truth in South Dakota.
In South Dakota, we’re telling a story of hope. And we’re doing it by making our state the best place in America to live and to raise a family.
People want to raise a family here. In fact, we have the highest birth rate in the nation! We have built a culture of life. We have prioritized taking care of moms and their babies both before birth and after. When people are happy, healthy, and free to make the best decisions for themselves, they want to bring more beautiful children into this world.
As a parent and a grandparent, myself, I know how important it is for all of our parents to spend time with their newborn babies. That’s why I have prioritized family bonding by expanding Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits for state employees. We worked hard to pass PFL for state employees in 2020, and we expanded it earlier this year.
We’re not focusing solely on children and new parents. We have also given a new sense hope to hundreds of others across South Dakota.
When I launched the “Meth, We’re on It” campaign in 2019 alongside the Department of Social Services, we were attacked by the mainstream media. The campaign was provocative, and it worked. We have had incredible success combatting the meth crisis in our state. In 2020, South Dakota had the largest drop in drug overdoses in the country. Only two states had a decrease. New Hampshire dropped by less than 1%– South Dakota dropped by 16%. Then, in 2022, we had the largest drop in the nation once again. This time, our overdoses dropped by 17.6%.
The media attacked us for the campaign, but it worked. It saved lives. And it made a difference in the lives of so many families.
This success is not just a happy coincidence. It is proof that our policies work. Our focus on the individual needs of our people is really making a difference. I could never produce these results on my own – neither could any of our state agencies. Many of our agencies have worked together to tackle this challenge.
One of the biggest contributions has been the Department of Tribal Relations’ annual Meth Summit. Secretary Flute and his team has been dedicated to helping our tribes fight the meth epidemic, and hundreds of lives have been saved because of their tireless efforts.
In South Dakota we don’t complain about things, we fix them. That’s something that my dad always told me. We are not a people who look at problems and think that it’s someone else’s job to solve them. We pick ourselves up and figure out how to fix things. We dedicate ourselves to the betterment of our communities, our state, and our great nation.
That perspective is hard to come by these days, but that’s what makes South Dakota even more special. Our state is a beacon of Freedom for the nation. We are a state that truly has a story to tell – and I couldn’t be prouder that our story is a story of hope.