Sunday, April 19, 2015

This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Awareness: A Breakthrough Moment In South Dakota's Political Consciousness.

       Nice to see Pat Costello, the man in charge of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, finally acknowledge that the notion that South Dakota's lack of an income tax gives us an edge when it comes to economic growth is a myth.  Conceding as much in this morning's Sioux Falls
Costello, Grinning And Bearing It:
Outsiders Think SD Is "Remote & A Lot Of Fun For A Week"
(photo from Sioux Falls Argus Leader)
Argus Leader
, Costello admitted that "one of our mantras for business is no state income tax. That doesn't resonate with individuals." Costello  threw the towel in for that antiquated and irrelevant canard at a meeting of economic development officials after a recently completed round of focus groups in the region was conducted in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota by advertising agency Lawrence and Schiller of Sioux Falls.  Even more compelling was Costello's acknowledgement that, if anything, that "mantra" may have a detrimental quality to it, because "individuals viewed that as maybe the state doesn't have good education or fire protection or crime might be high or the park system not adequate. That was almost a quality of life deterrent." That's an interesting concession by Costello, considering that "quality of life," as defined by great outdoor opportunities, has been South Dakota's competitive trump card for generations. But it seems like people have other lifestyle priorities in mind when they make serious life decisions these days. Who would've thought?

     It's most refreshing to hear a dose of reality emerge from an administration that has long been characterized by self-adulation and denial of economic facts.  Last month's annual economic
South Dakota Word Cloud
Great Place To Visit, But . . . 
(graphic from Argus-Leader)
report, prepared by Costello's agency, was an exercise in extended self-puffery that was belied by

the state's negative economic performance and the continuing shortage of skilled workers
that according to Governor Daugaard has stymied South Dakota's economic growth needs. For some unfathomable reason, Daugaard and his administration have been unable to connect the dots between factors like wages, quality-of-life, a regressive overall tax climate and the state's inability to keep and attract an adequate labor force.  
     That it took a series of focus groups in nearby states to raise the Daugaard administration's awareness that "quality of life" issues matter and that outside perceptions of South Dakota's "quality of life" leave a lot to be desired is frustrating.  Lousy teacher pay, low overall wages, poorly maintained roads, slow economic growth--these are things that matter to young people growing up here and potential emigres looking for compelling reasons to bring their skills and their families to South Dakota.  Now that the Dennis Daugaard administration acknowledges as much, its challenge is to see if it can muster up the political will to begin some serious reforms that will change the way our state presents itself to the rest of the world.  I don't think we can make it on fresh air and great pheasant hunting opportunities in this day and age.  



  1. I think you grabbed the graphic for North Dakota.

  2. GOED needed focus groups to tell them what the blogosphere has been telling them all along. I'm telling you, we bloggers could save the state tons of money, if they'd just listen!


    This is something that many of us have been trying to expose in the historical mantra of economic development that this and previous administrations refuse to acknowledge. Many republicans in power over the past 20 years apparently can not recognize (perhaps they do but refuse to deal with the reality of it) that economic development is, in most respects, antagonistic to and subtractive from quality of life things like hunting, fishing, clean water and fresh air. While it might be difficult to actually quantify such a thing, it is pretty clear from other states experience that the faster and more extensive the economic growth, the more rapidly those quality of life concepts of open space, good hunting, fishing, boating and so on disappear. There is no balance in this equation in SD politics..... Economic development, particularly in the Ag sector, is precisely what has destroyed SD's pheasant hunting and now invites the H5N2 Bird Flu virus that,if it escapes fully into the wild, will further diminish pheasant populations and hunting opportunities. The 200 plus shooting preserves that import pheasants for the gun that have long been a Rounds, Janklow, Mikkelson economic development trump card will likely be the next vector for the Bird Flu virus. Helter Skelter, opportunistic economic development that destroys habitat, also destroys outdoor opportunity while increasing competition and overcrowding for what is left....... Politicians don't want to understand that consequence. It screws up their agenda. Thune and Rounds voted to set up a system of disposal of federal land back to the states. When that land falls into private hands (which it always will- take a look at River Ranch Resorts Cedar Shores development at Chamberlain to see how federal and state land wind up in private hands while sacraficing pheasant habitat and outdoor opportunity) our quality of life and opportunity will be depleted that much more. Money is more important to these people...... Quality of life is money- not open space!

    John Wrede