SDDP Responds to Governor Noem’s use of CARES Act Funds

Sioux Falls, SD (Sept. 9, 2020) – On Tuesday, Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration announced they are spending $5 million of the coronavirus relief funds on tourism ads that feature the governor. The South Dakota Democratic Party is frankly horrified about the lack of transparency and decision-making behind the distribution of the CARES Act money. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the state House of Representatives have requested a special session to prioritize the spending of the COVID-19 related funds. 

“The lack of oversight and accountability should be troubling to everyone, regardless of party affiliation. Lawmakers have requested a special session for exactly this reason. $1.25 billion in taxpayer dollars should be used wisely to address the needs of South Dakotans.” – Randy Seiler, Chair

The special session has been proposed with a listening session so businesses and individuals can share the struggles they’re experiencing now and what they see as their greatest challenges in the future. The restaurant industry has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and many retailers across the state are struggling to survive. 

“The CARES Act was specifically designed to help people and businesses struggling during the pandemic. As it stands, the governor is ignoring the needs of South Dakotans. She is by-passing the legislature and simply dictating the use of the funds.” – Pam Cole, Executive Director

This week’s revelation that Noem continues to spend the dollars without any input from South Dakota lawmakers or the public clarifies the need for a special session. Noem announced additional funds for South Dakota students on Sept. 3, but Democratic leadership believes help arrived too late. 

“As the school year approached, I witnessed social posts from teachers looking for donations of hand sanitizer, masks, Clorox wipes, and sharing ideas on how to create barriers to protect their students at a minimal cost. Our schools should have had more funding earlier. Teachers shouldn’t have to beg for supplies to protect our children.” – Nikki Gronli, Vice Chair

Please direct questions to SDDP Executive Director Pam Cole via email or phone (605) 695-1996.