Candidate Profile: Dave Knudson
Dakota Digest - 05/25/2010
by Cory Klumper
State Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson is a business lawyer in Sioux Falls. His campaign calls him “Mr. Fix it”.
“Dave Knudson fixes problems,” says a campaign ad. “The clock is broken. All fixed. Thanks Grandpa!”
Knudson’s campaign toolbox focuses on three issues. He says what needs fixing are the Economy, the State Budget, and K-12 education.
Knudson says he has experience creating jobs and that’s why he’s the best candidate to help South Dakota’s economy. Ron Williamson was the Chief of Staff for former Governor Bill Janklow in the late ‘70s and early 80’s. Williamson is among three former Chiefs of Staff and two former State Budget Directors who endorse Knudson. Williamson says the unemployment rate has gone from around 2 and a half percent to around five percent.
“So that means that twice as many people are unemployed now as there were before,” says Williamson. “Unemployment comp fund is in trouble, our retirement fund is in trouble, and revenue sources are in trouble. And we need someone who can come in with new ideas, new thoughts as to how to approach these. I think Dave can do that.”
Declining revenue is one of the causes behind a state budget deficit. The Knudson campaign has focused heavily on last years’ legislative battle over how to fix it.
“South Dakota’s Deficit, $40 million, Over $100 million next year, but the spigot has run dry and some politicians claim there is no crisis,” claims a campaign ad. “Dave Knudson knew the spigot would run dry. As republican majority leader Dave led the fight to cut spending, saving taxpayers $40 million. That’s Dave, Mr. Fix it.”
Knudson says the $40 Million that were cut this year will roll over to next year’s budget, leaving a $60 Million deficit. He says he supports a 3% across-the-board cut to all services except K-12 education and Medicaid to fill some of that gap. He also says he wouldn’t discount using some reserve funds to balance next year’s budget.
K-12 education is one thing that Knudson didn’t want to see cut in this year’s budget.
He proposed a bill that would have grown the per pupil amount at the same rate as the state’s general fund revenue. Knudson told a group of young professionals in Sioux Falls that he would make K-12 education a priority if elected governor.
“If you think of the State’s Budget as a Pie Chart, eight or ten years ago we spent about 32% of our state’s general fund on K-12 education, today that’s about 27% something like that, but we have clearly reduced the percentage of our state budget that we devote to K-12 education,” says Knudson. “In my mind what that means is that we’ve been growing the rest of state government at the expense of education. I’m not a supporter of that.”
The Sioux Falls Up and Coming group had many questions for Knudson ranging from inquiries about his ad agency to the contractor’s excise tax and job creation. Knudson says his unique blend of experience will help bring businesses and jobs to South Dakota.
“I grew up in Yankton, zero to 18 there,” says Knudson. “I went to Harvard College as an undergraduate, went to New York University Law School, so I was seven years on the east coast always coming back to South Dakota to work in the summer.”
After college he started his career as a business lawyer. He served as Chief of Staff for former Governor Bill Janklow during the 1995 and 1999 legislative sessions. Since 2002 Knudson has been elected to the State Senate four times and has been the Majority Leader for the past four years. He says this experience makes him the best candidate for governor.
“I’ve worked as a lawyer with large and small employers so I feel I understand the business world quite well, and the mechanics of creating jobs.” says Knudson. “I also have that unique blend of experience in actually operating the governor’s office as the chief of staff and then the legislative experience. I’ve been on both sides of that table whenever there’s discussions between the governor and the legislature.”
Knudson says since being elected to the State Senate he has been the prime sponsor of 60 bills that are now law. He says some of the major legislation includes bills relating to K-12 education and Open Government. Knudson was also the prime sponsor of last year’s smoking ban law, and he helped create the new agricultural productivity model of valuing Ag property.
As the campaign continues Knudson trails an early lead by Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard. But Knudson says he has the momentum to win the race.
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