It's not surprising that South Dakota has the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 2.8 percent. We are a state of hard workers. With more than 115,000 South Dakotans working in agriculture, many of us grew up on farms or ranches or have family or friends with ag operations. Because agriculture is a part of our heritage, the value of hard work has been passed on from generation to generation.
Since we became a state in 1889, the South Dakota Legislature has balanced the budget every year. We don't do it with accounting gimmicks, either. We don't push one year's expense into the next. We don't use one-time windfalls to fund ongoing expenses. We never issue general obligation bonds.
Many states are starting to balance their budgets again. But far too many of those other states have long-term liabilities, unfunded pension obligations and large general obligation liabilities. Our state's pension is more than 100 percent funded. Other states will eventually be forced to confront those liabilities — probably at the expense of entrepreneurs and businesses.
It is because of these practices that, within the last few years, South Dakota has received AAA credit ratings from Moody's, S&P and Fitch. As the nation and some states have experienced downgrades, South Dakota's stewardship is paying off. The upgrades we have received are another indication that we are on the right track.
Thanks to our history of fiscal responsibility, it is likely that South Dakota will continue to be the place to do business. Businesses plan for the long term. When considering moving or expanding, they need stability and certainty. They need to know that government won't get in their way. That's what we can offer here in South Dakota.
— By South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard
Editor's note: This commentary was written before the release of the Top States 2017 data. The governor did not have knowledge of the rankings or the comprehensive data.