Candidate Profile: Dennis Daugaard
Dakota Digest - 05/27/2010
By Jackelyn Severin
Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard has served under the Rounds administration for the past 7 years. Now he is running as one of five Republicans in the June 8th primary for Governor. He is an anti-abortion candidate that believes in fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility and upholding the second amendment.
Dennis Daugaard draws from his life experiences to show people why he should be South Dakota’s next Governor.
“I grew up on a farm near Dell Rapids milking cows and attending a one room country school,” says Daugaard, “I had to work my way through school. I worked through USD washing dishes for my meals, and welding on the Load King assembly line.”
Daugaard says he can balance the state budget because he did so at the Children’s Home Society. He says when he first became executive director, Children’s Home Society was losing money and in debt.
“Over twenty years we changed that,” says Daugaard, “We got back in the black, we paid off our debt, we grew seven fold and we restored the reserves and then some. When I handed in my keys at Children’s Home Society to run for governor, Children’s Home had 22 million dollars of fixed assets and 32 million dollars of reserves. No debt, no operating debt, not even a mortgage.”
I caught up with Daugaard after the Siouxland Republican Women’s candidate forum in Sioux Falls. Daugaard has served in several leadership positions throughout his life but it has always been at the suggestion of another person. He says this is the first time he has actively made the choice to run for office.
Daugaard says, “I’m lucky enough to have a set of experiences whether fiscal adversity at Children’s Home Society, political experience in the state senate, to really hit the ground running and have some of the knowledge and experience that are especially appropriate to the job at this time. So I thought well, if I don’t run I’m probably shirking my duty in a way.”
Daugaard has a plan to bring jobs and boost South Dakota’s economy. He says the first step in his plan is to preserve the business friendly environment that the state already has. He says many states have made drastic cuts and additional regulations in order to balance their budgets. He says South Dakota should avoid this.
“In a way the cloud of the economic recession can be a silver lining for South Dakota as other states raise their taxes,” says Daugaard, “Kansas raised their taxes 300 million dollars, maybe there’s a Kansas business looking for a South Dakota home now because of that tax increase.”
Daugaard says government needs to modify the tools the state has for economic development. For example he says officials need to make sure the REDI fund is doing what it was designed to do. He says the same is true for other funds.
“Our Community Development Block Grant program I think is more flexible than we sometimes believe and we can use it for more things than we’re using it right now, mostly water and sewer projects. There’s more that we can do with that money than we are,” says Daugaard, “The micro-loan program right now the ceiling is 50,000. I think we want to look at moving that up to about 100,000 dollars and streamlining the application process.”
Daugaard says the state needs to focus more on education especially in the research fields. He says for every dollar the state invests in research centers South Dakota receives almost three dollars in return.
“And not only do we have good educational opportunities for our students, undergrad and master level students, but also those educational opportunities can turn into jobs as those research projects find discoveries that can be made into products.”
Daugaard supports more funding for all levels and areas of education but he says the state should measure the outcome of education like every other government program.
Besides investing in education Daugaard says the state also needs to invest in rural communities and farmers.
“We need to continue to work hard for value-added industry in South Dakota. Rather than ship corn out let’s feed it to livestock, let’s do things with our soybeans. Let’s find ways to create products that are based upon renewable rather than petroleum based plastics.”
Daugaard says as Governor he would further facilitate wind energy and promote interstate transmissions lines and also urge the EPA to approve E15 blender pumps.
If elected governor Daugaard says he will be the number one salesman for the state by actively recruiting businesses to come to South Dakota.
“If you’re a successful business person and you’re in another state you will get brochure, after brochure, after CD, after DVD, from all kinds of economic development officers and workers from all around the country both at the state level and at the municipal level and trying to weed through and stand out in that pile is very difficult but if you get a letter from the Governor or a call from the Governor of South Dakota I think that might stand out.”
Daugaard says he will also seek out people who used to live in South Dakota and are now business leaders in other states. He believes he can get them to come back to South Dakota and bring their knowledge and successful companies with them.
Through his life Dennis Daugaard has been self reliant and he believes that is the way government should be run with low taxes, low regulations and limiting government growth.
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