Congratulations to the classes of 2018! To all high school, college and technical school students graduating in South Dakota, I commend you for reaching this milestone. After years of studying, taking tests and writing essays, you’ve finally made it. Congratulations on all you have achieved!
Most of you probably already have a good idea of what you’ll be doing next – what additional education you’ll seek or what career you’ll pursue. Whether you’ve decided to stay in South Dakota or pursue a career or education elsewhere, I hope you’ll ultimately consider a future here in our state. There are a number of reasons to consider living and working here.
First, the tax burden in South Dakota is low. We are among only a few states without an income tax, meaning you can keep more of the money you earn – money that can repay student debt, buy a house someday or replace that car you drove into the ground in school.
Second, not only do people keep more of the money they earn in South Dakota, but that money will buy more here than in other places. We don’t spend as much money on housing, insurance, food and the other everyday needs. In fact, we have some of the lowest costs in the nation. In California, New York, Washington, D.C., or many other places, you will find costs that are 13 percent, 15 percent, even 17 percent higher than the national average. In South Dakota our costs are 12 percent lower than the national average.
Now some people will say, “South Dakota may have a low tax burden and low cost of living, but I won’t get paid as much if I live there.” Actually when it comes to per capita personal income, we fare pretty well. Nationally, we rank in the top half. And, if you adjust the per capita personal income to add cost of living and taxes, we rank sixth in the nation.
Beyond the financial reasons, South Dakota is a great place to live because we have a good quality of life here. Our communities are safe, our public schools are high-quality and our people are friendly. We also have clean air, clean water and beautiful scenery.
More than anything, though, there are people here who love you. You can’t put a price tag on the love and support of your family and friends, here in South Dakota. At the end of your careers, and even at the end of your days on earth, the people who love you will be thousands of times more important than anything else in this world.
My hope is not that you will never venture outside of our state, but rather that you would consider a more permanent future in South Dakota. Your dreams can come true—right here at home.
—By Gov. Dennis Daugaard