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Out of Touch Trio

South Dakota Democrats have always aspired to expand opportunity and extend equality to all South Dakotans, whether we’re fighting to make college more affordable for young people, demanding equal pay for women, securing the agricultural safety net for family farmers, or protecting the right to vote in Indian country. These policies stem from our South Dakota values. We reward work, respect women, and invest in all South Dakotans.

That’s why the 2014 Republican ticket looks so out of touch today. Former Governor Mike Rounds, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, and Governor Dennis Daugaard. With respect to all South Dakota’s values, these three fall woefully short. Let us count just some of the ways:

Governor Mike Rounds: Candidate for US Senate

–Rounds displayed very little vision and indeed took dramatic steps backward for the state.  In education alone, the best ticket to a brighter future for our children, funding under Rounds was cut from 39 to 31 percent a drop of almost 25 percent in just eight short years which helped sink South Dakota to last in the nation in teacher pay and last in the nation in per pupil funding.

–A higher percentage of South Dakota college students carry massive debt coming out of college than students do anywhere else in the nation.  This is in no small part because on Rounds’ watch, college tuition rose over 50 percent in just eight years. That’s probably why South Dakota freshman and sophomore college students began dropping out of college faster than freshman and sophomore students anywhere in America during Rounds’ administration.

–Rounds strongly opposed birth to three and pre-Kindergarten programs even though South Dakota children are some of the most threatened in the nation and study after study indicates that these two programs have been wildly successful wherever and whenever they have been implemented in other states. As a result, South Dakota regularly ranked at the bottom of states in its commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children during the Rounds’ Administration.

–On Rounds’ watch, South Dakota fell to the bottom and ranked last in wages of all states in America, and South Dakota rose to the top of states whose people must hold two or more jobs just to make ends meet.

–Poverty rose over 20 percent in the state with South Dakota’s children and seniors being hit the hardest during Rounds’ administration.  The consequences of Rounds’ cuts to Medicaid were that on his watch, poverty rates in South Dakota exploded as did food insecurity among the people of South Dakota with over 20 percent of our kids now going to bed hungry. Now, shamefully seven of the poorest counties in America now are South Dakota counties.

–Rounds enacted the most restrictive reproductive choice laws our country had ever seen only to watch the voters of South Dakota rebuff him twice.

–Always a fan of oil companies but much less so a fan of ethanol, Rounds attempted to raise taxes on ethanol during his tenure which, had he been able to do, would have severely undermined this vital and burgeoning South Dakota industry.  Meanwhile, Rounds pushed through over $30 million in taxpayer giveaways to the foreign oil company TransCanada to build a controversial and dangerous tar sands oil pipeline in eastern South Dakota that they were going to build anyway.  In states like Nebraska where the pipeline was built as well, the state did not give TransCanada a dime.

–On Rounds’ watch, the state seemed to stockpile state owned and operated airplanes for Rounds’ and his elite government cronies to use.  Rounds, who personally loves to fly, and did so frequently on questionable and personal business, had no problem with the state owning multiple airplanes when surrounding states were selling theirs’ off – including Nebraska (and even states like California).

Governor Dennis Daugaard: Candidate for Governor

–Daugaard enacted $127 million in savage budget cuts to education, healthcare, and essential government services after denying the state had a budget crisis during his campaign. As a result, property taxes increased, class sizes mushroomed, and schools closed across South Dakota.

–Speaking of schools, Daugaard’s administration passed legislation to impose one-size-fits-all school mandates, increase student testing, and remove teacher tenure without any proof that such efforts improve student outcomes. What happened to that legislation? Voters put it on the ballot and rejected it in 2012.

–Voters rejected another part of Daugaard’s agenda too. At the same time Daugaard said we had no money for students or seniors, he crafted a $20 million a year giveaway to big business at the expense of schools and nursing homes. Democrats said enough is enough and put his economic development plan on the ballot, which voters rejected handily.

–Daugaard opposes a Medicaid expansion which would bring over $300 million a year into South Dakota, expand access to healthcare especially in rural areas and Indian country, and generate hundreds of new jobs at little to no cost to the state.

–Daugaard’s administration failed to file charges against long term insurance companies they knew were bilking seniors across South Dakota.

–Daugaard has been mired in an unresolved controversy about the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota after the organization he led while Lt. Governor profited from the high placement rate of Native Americans into white foster families.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem: Candidate for US House

–Noem missed 16 of 20 agriculture committee meetings at the same time the House was considering a new farm bill, the most important piece of legislation for South Dakota’s dominant agriculture industry. (Speaking of a farm bill, where is the House on that anyway?)

–Noem wants to end Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and affordable medical coverage for over 600,000 South Dakotans age 54 and younger & deny preventative care benefits for 133,000 current Medicare beneficiaries.

–Even though women still earn only 80 cents for every dollar men earn, Noem voted against consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure erasing that disparity by closing loopholes and imposing effective, strict penalties on employers who discriminate based on gender.

–Noem’s budget agenda also means fewer kids in education programs like Head Start, fewer teachers  for our students at a time state support for education is plummeting, and fewer investments in public safety and crime prevention across SOuth Dakota.

–Noem’s budget agenda also affects our national defense budget in South Dakota: 410 Army employees, 812 Air Force employees, 3 Navy employees, and 55 Defense Civilian employees will lose a combined salary of $4,281,000 as a result of sequestration.

South Dakota deserves elected officials who stand up for South Dakota values. Do you want to send this out of touch trio home in 2014? Help us expand our growing troop of grassroots volunteers. Pledge your support today!

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