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Noem Offering Paid Family Leave for State Employees—What About the Private Sector?

Governor Kristi Noem’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposes 100% paid family leave for state employees and $20 million over four years to encourage private employers to offer paid family leave. That’s a good start, says Michelle Erpenbach of Sioux Falls Thrive:

“Offering paid family leave to state employees does a couple things: it provides critical time for families to bond with new children, whether newborns or newly adopted,” Erpenbach said in an emailed statement. “It sets a standard for private employers. Essentially, if the state can provide this for its employees then we should all be able to support young families in this important way” [Makenzie Huber and John Hult, “Child Care Is a Major Workforce Concern. Why Wasn’t It in Gov. Noem’s Budget Address?South Dakota Searchlight, 2022.12.14].

But “setting a standard” for the private sector doesn’t build daycares and hire child care providers:

The budget speech failed to address the “workforce behind the workforce” and just how “desperate” employers and parents are to find child care, Erpenbach added.

South Dakota has one of the highest percentages of working parents in the county. In Sioux Falls, that rate is 84%, which is 19 percentage points above the national average.

“As a community and a state, we need to collaborate around creative solutions that provide appropriate education and compensation – including full job benefits – for child care, early childhood education and after-school care providers,” Erpenbach said. “… Without affordable, accessible care for children of all ages, our economic vitality is at stake” [Huber and Hult, 2022.12.14].

We can’t all work for the state. The Legislature needs to look for ways to fund child care and raise wages for all families.


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-12-16 06:34

    Gosh Cory, Noem is not just a socializing schemer. She’s a true socialist on this one. Praise the lord.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-12-16 08:49

    Leaving herself wide open for claims of RINOism in her run for national office.

  3. Donald Pay 2022-12-16 09:05

    I was a state employee when we had our daughter. At that time the state provided maternal leave (I believe it was paid), but Dad’s got nothing. I checked into getting some time off for “paternal leave,” but it was a no. I thought for a minute about suing, but it wouldn’t have done me much good, so I let it go when my supervisor said I could take vacation time. That was two weeks, but it was better than nothing.

  4. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-12-16 15:14

    I never know what motives politicians have, so I’m puzzled with Kristi Lynn’s two recent uncharacteristically thoughtful and compassionate actions.
    Excuses state employees from driving to work in a blizzard AND offering paid family leave?

    I am totally confused, and would sincerely like to read more contributor’s opinions.

    Thank you. B

  5. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-16 21:48

    Bonnie–that State Government does not have paid family leave by this time is the puzzle. I supervised employees for three decades without it and there were circumstances that arose where the humanity of the situation (children and spouses with cancer, for example, which can go on for years) demanded that as employers we find an equitable solution which addressed the situation. We allowed employees to use their sick leave and vacation and when that ran out, unpaid family leave. (Unpaid family leave came in the late 1990’s. There were supervisors who felt it was a slippery slope, but I can’t recall an employee who took any advantage of the situation. The employees are generally overwhelmed by the situation and thankful for the understanding provided by the employer. It is good for company morale.) Paid family leave is an extension of of this benefit which recognizes that in life, there are circumstances, beyond our control, which require compassion and some administrative creativity to adequately compensate for what is, in the end, the kind of bad luck, and human tragedy, we are all susceptible to endure.

  6. grudznick 2022-12-16 22:17

    What boggles the mind of most is why Ms. Noem would pound $20M into the rathole of paying private employers to do the right thing. Boggling, indeed.

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