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.