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State Gets Rid of Moving Reimbursement, May Claw Back Moving Allowances for New Hires Who Don’t Stay for Two Years

Freedom™ may work in South Dakota, but moving here to work for the state won’t be free. Working against the Governor’s effort to recruit workers from other states, the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee has approved the Board of Finance’s proposal to get rid of moving expense reimbursements and demand refund of moving allowances if new workers don’t stay with the state for two years:

The current rule allows for reimbursement of moving expenses if a state employee remains employed for six-months. The new rule repeals the last and will require a percentage return of the up-front allowance given if the employee leaves before two years.

“This essentially creates a two-year work commitment and it certainly helps with retention and recruitment,” said Board of Finance Chair Katie Hruska. “To allow this longer period, or to allow the allowance at all, but then for retention because you have a little bit of stick in the game. So we are not letting any state employees, fly-by-night employees get unjustly enriched by having this allowance.”

The committee ultimately voted to accept all changes presented by state departments during Thursday’s meeting [Evan Walton, “Interim Rules Committee Votes on State Departments’ Rule Changes,” SDPB, 2023.09.21].

The Board of Finance held a public hearing on this stingy rule change in July, but since the Board of Finance has illegally stopped publishing meeting minutes online, we can’t easily check who voted for this rule change.

But Katie Hruska—she works for the Governor, so she ought to be totally in tune with the Governor’s recruitment campaign, yet she’s saying we shouldn’t cover moving expenses for new recruits. She’s also making the ridiculous statement that moving reimbursements or allowances “unjustly enrich” new hires. No one is getting rich off moving reimbursements; that reimbursement simply keeps a new hire from having to put two months worth of salary on the credit card just to get herself, her family, and her possessions into a semi and across the country to Pierre. And new hires already have plenty of stick or skin or whatever in the game without the threat of having to pay back all or some of their moving allowance—coming to South Dakota to work for the state, then choosing to quit after less than two years means another round of disruption in one’s professional and family life and probably a move back out of the state, since crossing the one-party regime means friends of the Governor may put a fatwa out on your work prospects in Pierre and anywhere else in South Dakota.

The previous rules allowed reimbursement for moving expenses of up to 11,000 pounds of household goods, including boxes and packing materials, labor charges, storage, and other expenses. The previous rules also allowed a travel per diem and reimbursement for lodging while traveling from the old home to the new home in South Dakota. The rules change as posted repeals all the reimbursement language but does not make clear what moving allowances will be allowed.

So evidently South Dakota Freedom isn’t free. Not only will you take a hit on your wages (last year, South Dakota’s crashing median household income was 9.9% lower than the national median), but if you work for the state, your new employer may not even cover the cost of bringing your talent and your toaster to South Dakota.


  1. jerry 2023-09-25 09:15

    Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Janis, you went to damn young, but boy, you could sure belt out those blues.

  2. Loren 2023-09-25 09:35

    If “freedom” is that important to you, pay your own dang way. Isn’t it enuf that SD will have a world class shooting range, be abortion free and require no vaccine? @#$%^&*!

  3. cibvet 2023-09-25 09:49

    I see a lot of cronyism imported, but fail to see the “talent”. Blue collar workers have to pay their own way,so maybe it is about time for white collar workers to do the same.

  4. O 2023-09-25 10:54

    If business were serious about retention, we would go back to the good-old days of pensions. However, that became an expense that business did not want to pay, so now businesses only factor in the moment for employees because “in-the-moment” is how employers view their relationship with their workforce. Right-to-work (for less) and at-will employment means NO loyalty comes from the top. Why then is there so much surprise that there is no loyalty from the workforce? Even the whole moving cost coverage was only an in-the-moment plan to attract workers — not retain them. The false division created between new and retained workers is a management ruse to drive DOWN both ends of the pay scale.

    Without strong unions and collective bargaining units, the SD (and US) workforce will remain the underdog in all salary discussions.

  5. Donald Pay 2023-09-25 11:26

    Well, moving expenses are the bare minimum in the private sector. My nephew negotiated moving expenses plus a stipend to buy household items (furniture, etc.). They also found him an apartment close to his work, but he had to pay the rent. I thought that was pretty neat. They must have really wanted him.

  6. P. Aitch 2023-09-25 12:38

    Being upfront, upfront.

    The Boss, “I’ll hire you and you can work here as long as I need you.”

    The Worker, “I’ll work for you as long as I choose to.”

    Proceed …

  7. All Mammal 2023-09-25 13:19

    Where are incentives for recruiting teachers to our state? Do we just expect them to live in campgrounds? It takes a methed-up state to keep luring ramen noodle factories and fake shrimp farms with taxpayers’ sweat and tears when we really need teachers.

    I wonder how many school teachers attend NASCAR races for the classified ads on the cars..

  8. P. Aitch 2023-09-25 13:35

    Assistant: Please expound on how a low tax, conservative rural state can successfully recruit teachers.

    Yes. Of course Mr. Aitch. My pleasure.
    To successfully recruit teachers in low tax, rural conservative states, several key strategies can be implemented. These strategies focus on creating an attractive work environment, providing competitive compensation and benefits packages, and fostering strong community engagement. Here are some approaches that can help in this recruitment process:

    1. Competitive compensation: Offering competitive salaries and benefits is crucial to attract quality teachers. It is important to conduct market research to evaluate salary levels in neighboring states or regions and adjust compensation accordingly. Additionally, providing benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and wellness programs can enhance teachers’ overall job satisfaction.

    2. Loan forgiveness programs and tuition reimbursement: Implementing loan forgiveness programs or tuition reimbursement options can help alleviate the financial burden on teachers. These programs can encourage individuals to pursue careers in education by providing assistance in paying off student loans or covering ongoing education costs.

    3. Professional development opportunities: Offering comprehensive professional development opportunities is enticing for potential teachers. This can include training sessions, workshops, and conferences focused on enhancing teaching skills and knowledge. Providing access to technology and resources that support innovative teaching methods can also attract teachers who are invested in their professional growth.

    4. Emphasize work-life balance: Recognize and advocate for the importance of work-life balance among teachers, especially in rural areas where resources may be limited. Promote flexible scheduling options, supportive workplace culture, and initiatives that promote teacher well-being. This can contribute to a positive working environment, reducing teacher attrition rates.

    5. Collaborations with local communities: Engaging local communities in the recruitment process can help build relationships and showcase the value placed on education. Collaborate with community organizations, businesses, and local leaders to highlight the benefits of teaching in rural areas, such as close-knit communities and unique cultural experiences. Foster relationships with universities and colleges to establish pipelines for student teachers and interns to gain experience in rural schools.

    6. Marketing and outreach efforts: Use targeted marketing and outreach campaigns to attract prospective teachers to rural areas. Highlight the benefits and perks of teaching in low tax, rural conservative states, including potentially lower living costs and the opportunity to make a significant impact on students in smaller class sizes. Utilize social media platforms and online job boards to reach a wider pool of candidates.

    7. Mentorship and support programs: Develop mentorship and induction programs to support new teachers during their initial years of teaching. Pairing new teachers with experienced educators who can provide guidance and support can enhance job satisfaction and reduce attrition rates.

    8. School culture and climate: Highlight the positive aspects of the school culture, emphasizing the supportive and collaborative nature of the educational community. Share success stories, testimonials, and achievements of students and teachers to showcase a nurturing and rewarding environment.

    Implementing these strategies can help rural conservative states attract and retain high-quality teachers, despite the challenges posed by low-tax environments. By addressing compensation, professional development, work-life balance, community engagement, and support programs, these states can create an enticing work environment that promotes teacher recruitment and retention.

  9. O 2023-09-25 15:26

    Assistant: would it also work to
    1. Underpay teachers compared to neighboring states and smilier professions,
    2. Underfund their work environments,
    3. Make them the enemy in culture war issues,
    4. Interfere with their instructional decisions whenever possible, removing any autonomy they have in their class,
    5. Create arbitrary standards that are impossible to meet,
    6. Foster a housing shortage makes small communities unable to attract ANY professionals,
    7. Keep teachers isolated in small communities that have few professional peers to relate to,
    8. Keep professional educators far removed from state decision making authorities,
    9. Make education and educators the enemy in communities needing tax opt-out funds to stay afloat,
    10. Refuse to address fundamental social issues that undermine the ability for students to be successful (or safe) in schools,
    11. Create an environment of burn-out so that mentoring becomes burdensome to both the mentor and mentee?

  10. jkl 2023-09-25 17:16

    P. Aitch – what we should do.

    O – what we will do.

  11. grudznick 2023-09-25 17:45

    Mr. O is on to something there. I asked ChatGPT, as did Mr. P.h, and got the same list as our portly short-order cook. Then I asked grudznAIck.

    grudznAIck said:

    Target some merit pay at the higher three of the Seven Indisputable Levels of Teachers.
    Hold the lower levels of the SILT accountable.
    Cut the fatcat Administrators to the bone.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2023-09-25 17:48

    Well…this is another nutty idea coming out of a Governor’s Office that seems to have plenty of those…It costs thousands to move to South Dakota, in fact, moving expense, stress on kids and family, and lack of appropriate housing, are three good reasons not to locate. Maybe the Governor’s Office is just awash with applications of high performance professionals. Ms. Joy?? Mr. Fury?? fill in the blank_________

  13. P. Aitch 2023-09-25 17:51

    Let’s ask her, O

    As an AI assistant, I don’t have personal opinions, but I can provide some insights. It is highly unlikely that implementing these procedures would help South Dakota attract and retain teachers. Many of these factors, such as underpaying teachers compared to neighboring states, underfunding work environments, and interfering with instructional decisions, can greatly demotivate and discourage teachers from staying in the profession or joining the workforce in the first place.

    Creating an environment where teachers feel isolated and lack professional peers to relate to can further contribute to low job satisfaction and turnover. Moreover, fostering a housing shortage and not addressing fundamental social issues that affect student success and safety can create additional challenges for educators.

    To attract and retain teachers, it is generally beneficial to provide competitive compensation, support professional development, create supportive work environments, involve educators in decision-making processes, address social issues affecting students, and foster a sense of community among educators.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-09-26 05:22

    We already do a lot of the questionable “Northern Exposure” workforce recruitment strategy, where we offer certain perks like paying for education on the condition that workers then commit to working and living in South Dakota for a few years. The above rule change diverges from that model, moving from conditioning perks to conditioning what Donald says are ordinary benefits on long-term commitment. What’s next: if someone comes from out of state to work in South Dakota, finds the winters and isolation of Pierre too harsh, and decides to move back to Texas after a year, are we going to make that person pay back 50% of her hard-earned paycheck?

    Moving is expensive. So is changing jobs: not only are there practical expenses, like hustling around to all the job interviews it will take to land a good new job and then maybe new wardrobe and gear and training that the new employer may or may not cover, but there are also the reputational/resume costs, as prospective employers will ask, “Why did you leave that last job so quickly? Can we rely on you to stick with us?” Clawing back moving expenses seems unnecessary and counterproductive. We’re reducing an incentive and creating a penalty, putting two new negative figures into the calculations a job applicant will do to determine whether working for the state of South Dakota is worth the effort.

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