Dennis Daugaard is the 32nd Governor of South Dakota. Daugaard and his running mate, former house speaker Matt Michels of Yankton, were elected in 2010 and sworn in on January 8, 2011. The Daugaard/Michels gubernatorial ticket was reelected in 2014 by the largest margin in South Dakota history.
Governor Daugaard has emphasized job creation, sound fiscal management, and efficient government operation. Days after taking office, Daugaard proposed and the Legislature passed a state budget that eliminated a $127 million structural deficit, without raising taxes.
That same year, Daugaard led emergency flood protection efforts to avoid catastrophic flooding along the Missouri River after the Corps of Engineers announced record-breaking water releases from Missouri River dams.
Daugaard joined with the Chief Justice and legislative leaders to conduct inter-branch, bipartisan studies of the state’s adult and juvenile criminal justice and corrections systems. This led to bipartisan passage of comprehensive reform legislation for both systems. The intent of the legislation is to increase public safety, hold offenders more accountable, and control escalating costs.
In 2015, Governor Daugaard assembled the Blue Ribbon Task Force to propose solutions to improve education in South Dakota. The task force put forth recommendations which Daugaard then brought as legislation the following session. The package of bills raised new revenue for teacher pay, provided for property tax relief, reformed the school funding formula, and included measures to create efficiencies and retain teachers. As a result of the Governor’s proposals, South Dakota’s average teacher salary increased by 11.9 percent for the 2016-2017 school year.
The Governor has prioritized sound stewardship of the state’s resources, including adequate funding of transportation infrastructure, prudent management of the state pension plan, and maintenance and preservation of state buildings. Under his leadership, South Dakota was named “Best Run State in America” and obtained the highest bond rating of AAA from all three rating agencies.
In the fall of 2011 Daugaard launched the Better Government Initiative to improve efficiency and openness in state government. Daugaard opened the Governor’s Mansion to the public, released invitation lists of Governor’s events, and partnered with state agencies to move many government services online. The initiative is a continuing effort to cut red tape, and has eliminated 4,000 sections of obsolete or unnecessary laws and rules, accounting for nearly 470,000 words.