Over the last several months, I've visited with District 12 voters about taking my four decades of business experience to work representing you in Pierre. As CEO of LodgeNet and the Washington Pavilion, I learned the importance of putting your ego aside and building consensus to actually get things done. I'll work with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to bring better balance to our lopsided state legislature. Better balance = Better government.
We've talked about how critical it is for the legislature to quit pandering to the "red right" and "blue left" and meet in the middle to produce results for the "Purple Center" on education, workforce training/recruitment/retention, and true economic development for all South Dakotans. We need to end the games in Pierre, where politicians waste your tax dollars on purposely divisive legislation that does nothing to help grow our state's economy.
With you vote, I'll work every day to represent our district honorably, openly, and with the seriousness you deserve. That's how I handled myself as a CEO and a leader with numerous community groups, and it's what I'll do for District 12 in Pierre. Positively!
Throughout my business career, I learned the value of putting your ego aside, building consensus, and producing results. Nothing gets done when people blindly put their own agendas first.
In Pierre for far too long, politicians have been playing games with your tax dollars, pursuing purposely divisive legislation that doesn't do a thing to help grow South Dakota's economy. We need legislators who aren't trying to gain favor with the extreme right or left. We need public servants willing to meet in the middle to do what's best for all South Dakotans.
My CEO experiences at LodgeNet and the Washington Pavilion prepared me to represent you with the focus and seriousness you deserve. I'll help put an end to the games in Pierre.
(1) Work with both Republicans and Democrats on creative funding for K-12 schools, universities and tech schools. Education just needs to be a priority. (2) Lead efforts to develop smart growth initiatives from workforce development to affordable housing, adding good jobs and expanding our businesses.
That's what I did over the last four decades in the private sector, and it's the experience I'll put to work for you in state government.
When I first joined tech start-up LodgeNet, we had 10 employees and $1 million in revenue. When I retired 25 years later as CEO, we had over 1,000 employees and $400 million in annual revenue. While our growth was tremendous, what made me most proud was that our team -- made up of graduates of our area's universities and technical institutes -- were pioneers of the services now offered by giants like Netflix and Amazon. We were impacting global technology from right here in Sioux Falls!
From that personal experience, I know firsthand how critical it is to have a well-trained workforce to drive our state's economic development; and how important it is for our kids to gain a quality education -- so they can change the world -- without leaving the State. It's a win-win for the economic security of every South Dakotan.
Sadly, the state legislature cut support of our K-12 schools by double digits a decade ago and per-student funding is still below that previous level -- despite a +20% increase in sales tax revenue. That's just unacceptable.
It's time to hit the reset button and make education funding a priority within our existing budget. From state support for pre-school to increased funding for needs-based scholarships, there are multitudes of ways we can deliver a masssive return on a renewed investment in our kids.