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Sutton Calls for Higher Professional Wages, Should Add Kasich’s Pro-Immigrant Plan

Democratic candidate for governor Billie Sutton starts off his economic development plan with the one phrase his Republican opponents refuse to mention when talking workforce: raising wages.

But, but, but, you say, government can’t raise everybody’s wages. Maybe not, but smart government can find ways to raise wages for teachers and health care providers:

Folks who spend the time and money to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees aren’t getting the same return on investment as those with associate degrees. South Dakota has some of the lowest wages in the nation for professionals like nurses and teachers. Billie recognizes that many of our young and highly educated students are leaving the state because they don’t see the jobs or wages they need to build a strong and responsible future for their families. Billie knows economic capital trails human capital as long as South Dakota prioritizes creating jobs that pay reasonable wages. His work to raise teacher pay, utilize federal dollars available to expand healthcare coverage, and increase provider reimbursement rates to free-up more money for nurses wages are examples of the big-picture approach Billie will use to close South Dakota’s wage gap. There’s room for all levels of education in our economy, and a stronger South Dakota is one where hard work actually pays off [Sutton for Governor, “Building a Stronger South Dakota: A Plan for a Stronger South Dakota Economy,” 2018.05.17].

Workforce doesn’t materialize out of thin air; recruiting talent means offering the wages that talent is worth. Government can keep working to raise teacher pay. It can also do smart things like expanding Medicaid to ease budget constraints on hospitals and the state and free up cash to pay nurses.

Sutton and other candidates for governor could stand to ad a plank from Ohio Governor John Kasich’s platform. Governor Kasich just created an “Office of Opportunities for New Americans”:

The office within the Ohio Department Services Agency will help legal immigrants obtain job skills and employment and support their transition into local communities. The program is directed at legal immigrants, but officials do not plan to ask for paperwork to identify potential undocumented immigrants who may seek assistance.

…While many Ohio immigrants arrive with in-demand job skills and top-flight education, others need help the state can provide, Kasich said. “We need to make sure they have a place to go where they are not lost.”

Immigrants bring “great vitality and energy” and are an important component of the state workforce, the governor said. Columbus’ Somali community, one of the largest in the country, can benefit from the new office, Kasich suggested [Randy Ludlow, “John Kasich Creates Office Dedicated to Helping Immigrants,” Governing, 2018.05.17].

Roll out better wages, and roll out the Welcome Wagon to the new Americans who’ve cast their lots with our great country—that’s how you build a 21st-century workforce.


  1. Daryl Root 2018-05-17

    Let’s become just like California and spend our way into prosperity…NO THANK YOU!

  2. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-17

    Daryl Root
    You might want to do some real research on California’s economy.

  3. o 2018-05-17

    Daryl, I think I missed your reasoning for putting out California’s economy as the example of what not to do?

    Are you saying states can cut their way into prosperity?

  4. jerry 2018-05-17

    Billie Sutton, Making South Dakota Great Again after 40 years of Red Wave corruption and abuse.

  5. mike fom iowa 2018-05-17

    From the LA Times- Gray Davis left Arnold Schwarzenegger a huge deficit. And the film star flubbed up by borrowing money to fill the gap. That just dug a deeper hole. The Great Recession hit and Schwarzenegger left Jerry Brown $26 billion in the red.

    By contrast, Brown on Friday reported an $8.9-billion surplus in a revised $199-billion budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1. Legally, legislators must pass a budget by June 15 or forfeit their paychecks for every day they’re tardy.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-17

    California now has the 5th largest economy in the world.

  7. mike fom iowa 2018-05-17

    You are correct, Sir, and it took Democrats to do it.

  8. owen reitzel 2018-05-17

    and what happened to the California economy under the leadership of the “Terminator?”
    I believe Brown saved California.

  9. happy camper 2018-05-17

    Ha – Moonbeam in old age is practically a conservative – he told the Progressives to forget about Universal Health Care. Here’s a concept: Quasi-Free Markets. Trying to gain the benefit of both.

    “A quasi-market is a public sector institutional structure that is designed to reap the supposed efficiency gains of free markets without losing the equity benefits of traditional systems of public administration and financing.”

  10. mike fom iowa 2018-05-17

    I believe Grey Davis was the sucker in Sacremento when Enron and dubya screwed Californians out of billion of dollars with manufactured electrical blackouts and ungodly rate hikes to cover the rolling blackouts.

    Dubya should have been impeached for this alone.

  11. grudznick 2018-05-17

    The world would be a better place if more libbies moved to California. I always encourage out-migration from South Dakota.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-17

    I was born and raised on a South Dakota and am a proud liberal, I’ll live wherever I damn well please even in republican corruption infested South Dakota.
    grudz does not own South Dakota. Americans have a right to choose wherever they choose without being bullied and threatened.

  13. grudznick 2018-05-17

    Mr. C, I too, was born and raised in the great state of South Dakota, and embrace the neighboring of proud South Dakotans like you. And no, I don’t own all of South Dakota.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-17

    I didn’t say anything about South Dakota being a great state, it is people like you that cause many to call South Dakota ‘Northern Mississippi’.

  15. grudznick 2018-05-17

    South Dakota is the greatest state. But you know my take on that. I’m not a fan of Mississippi, but it is better than Iowa.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-17

    I have a special fondness for Iowa, my grandfather was born and raised in your great state.
    Like South Dakota’s regressive tax system, republicans practice a regressive economy and it shows with the stagnation of low wages in all occupation across the board.
    Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have a $15 per hour minimum wage and it seems to be working wonders for their economies.
    South Dakota republicans fail to understand the basic economic advantage of a regressive economy. When working people have money they spend it, retailers and service businesses benefit and often expand. Of course city and state taxes collections grow with an affordable living wage.

  17. grudznick 2018-05-17

    I recall your stories about visiting your grandfather in Iowa, Mr. C. It was touching. Your great grandpappy may have been from Mississippi, you never know.

  18. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-17

    My grandfather was not from Mississippi, I can trace his roots to upper New York.

  19. mike fom iowa 2018-05-18

    Roger, I am awful leery of the word great as being bandied about by wingnuts.They trash America and call it greatness. Mayhaps they don’t go far enough and say greatest disaster ever in America.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-18

    Sutton makes no reference to specific California policies. But if Sutton can turn South Dakota into the world’s fifth-largest economy (62% larger than Texas’s oily GDP, and behind only Germany, Japan, China, and the U.S.), is anyone going to complain?

    By the way, California had slipped to 10th in 2012. California appears to have enjoyed a good economic recovery under Governor Brown. At the very least, if Sutton adopts Brown/CA-style policies, the evidence shows they won’t hamper economic growth.

  21. jerry 2018-05-18

    Without California’s input, the United States would have the GDP of Lichtenstein.

  22. leslie 2018-05-18

    mine was from western NC and VA, big time Appalachian back woods hicks. my mom likely would have been too but they shipped her west after grandpappy knifed the neighbor-perhaps in defense of an attempted rape. no education, of course. absolute poverty. white people afaik

  23. leslie 2018-05-18

    grudz-so much for asking libbies to leave. at least 400,000 are in this state.

    as a former legislator i’d think you’d have better sense.

    what’s so great about GOP warped SD? Clean air. that’s not gonna last long. Clean water. same same. gold. that’s gone. buffalo, almost gone, red necks, B1Bs and ticks are about all that’s left.

  24. o 2018-05-18

    grudznick, if we lobbies all left SD, who would then clean up the big, red mess you all make?

  25. o 2018-05-18

    Roger, agreed. Concentration of wealth to only the corporate owners chokes an economy; broad distribution of wealth keeps an economy healthy. Only two things have ever truly been successful in combatting the greed-inspired concentration of wealth: tax policy and organized labor.

  26. Porter Lansing 2018-05-18

    o is most often right on point. Thanks for your input.

  27. Jason 2018-05-23

    If there was a shortage of teachers wanting to teach in SD, the wages would rise.

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-23

    One can argue that’s what happened in 2016: after years of seeing the talent pool shrink to crisis level, the Legislature finally got serious and just barely passed the half-penny sales tax to raise teacher pay.

    But the number of willing applicants does not change the fact that South Dakota has not been paying teachers for the full work they do for decades and thus is at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting and retaining top talent versus surrounding states.

  29. Jason 2018-05-23


    Do you really want to get into work hours with teachers vs non-teachers?

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-25

    Don’t need to: apples to apples, SD teachers work hours similar to what teachers in adjoining states do but get paid less. SD wages put us at competitive disadvantage.

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