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South Dakota is a Rising Star as a Recovery Leader

It may not surprise many here at home, but South Dakota is leading the nation in recovery! Moody’s Analytics and CNN track how far along the nation’s economy is at getting “Back to Normal,” and they say that the US is only 92 percent recovered. But South Dakota is the top ranked state in this metric at 113 percent, meaning we’ve more than recovered and are growing substantially! Second-place Idaho is far behind us at just 103 percent. Obviously, CNN is no friend to me or my policies, but even they can admit that South Dakota’s economy is thriving.


For four of the last five years, a separate ranking firm named Sioux Falls the top city in the nation for young professionals based on affordability, demographics, and entertainment options. And thanks to our scenic parks in West River, the undeniable draw of Mount Rushmore, and our respect for freedom, the state is leading the nation in tourism, according to the U.S. Travel Association.


Well before these rankings were published, I was working with lawmakers to build on the popularity of our state as businesses and Americans, in general, started looking for a place to land amid pandemic shutdowns. From January to March this year, the legislature succeeded in delivering key solutions to priority issues. Those include access to high-speed internet, investing in health care recruitment, and providing new programs to strengthen our public school system.


We delivered $100 million this past session for rural broadband access, which will continue to open doors of opportunity for small businesses looking to expand via e-commerce. The legislature appropriated nearly $1 million for recruiting healthcare professionals to the state, with a strong focus on rural health care providers. Additionally, the state expanded the ability of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to work with dentists and other non-physician practitioners. We even streamlined a process to allow licensed out-of-state healthcare professionals to work in South Dakota.


We also addressed the need for more access to mental health services with a combined $7.6 million appropriated for crisis stabilization facilities in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. As we look to expand access to high-speed internet statewide, we also authorized more telehealth services to allow South Dakotans to access the care they need.


No plan for our state's future would be complete without an investment in schools and educators. That’s why I fought to deliver a salary increase for teachers, and expanded the ability of school districts to raise local tax dollar investments. For high school seniors looking at colleges and universities, we established the South Dakota Freedom Scholarship with an initial state investment of $50 million. When partnered with donations from PREMIER Bank, T. Denny Sanford, Sanford Health, and Avera Health, the scholarship endowment will start at $175 million!


To ensure we continue to be a recovery leader and a friendly environment for people to start and grow their businesses, I fought to pass House Bill 1259. The bill creates incentives that encourage more businesses to construct facilities in cities and counties throughout the state. I also cut red tape that prevented South Dakotans from being able to start small businesses in their homes.


Speaking of homes, we secured $3 million for the Housing Opportunity Fund to develop more workforce housing as the state continues to grow its population and businesses relocate their employees here.


For our veterans returning home, we invested $400,000 for the veterans' bonus program and modified tuition requirements for veterans, armed forces personnel, and their families. We want to continue our record of being the number one state in the nation for veterans to live and work. And for our aging veteran population, I helped secure more than $300,000 for improvements to our State Veterans Home.


The data is still pouring in on how our policies are creating one of the best business environments for entrepreneurs and existing business owners. A WalletHub survey in July found that South Dakota was in the Top 10 for health care. And just this week, the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies in the country included 10 South Dakota-based businesses. These are good indications that our future is bright.


As we look ahead to the 2022 legislative session, I am committed to working hard for you so that employers and employees can continue to grow and thrive in South Dakota.