Barnett announces gubernatorial race Attorney General Mark Barnett entered the Republican governor's race Jan. 18 with a pledge to hold the line on taxes while working to strengthen the economy and education system. His initial campaign stops included The Prairie in Vermillion. by David Lias Attorney General Mark Barnett entered the Republican governor's race Jan. 18 with a pledge to hold the line on taxes while working to strengthen the economy and education system.
"I grew up in a family of 12 kids, so there wasn't a lot of dough in the house, but there was a lot of love. In fact, my mother used to go the local orphanage and pick up a kid over there and bring him to our house for a month or three," he told a group of supporters at The Prairie in Vermillion. "When that kid came up to the supper table, my mom would say, 'Move over, there's room at the table.' She meant more than just room at the table to sit down and eat. She meant room at the table of life."
Barnett said that "room at the table" philosophy of hers stayed with him, in both his personal life and his professional life as South Dakota's attorney general.
It's a philosophy he said will guide him if South Dakota voters elect him as their next governor.
Barnett only had time to outline his platform before leaving Vermillion for his next campaign stop.
He said there are two major reasons he is running for governor:
* "We simply have got to build this (state's) economy, and make it bigger and stronger than it is already," Barnett said. He believes South Dakota should pursue the development of research parks near the state's universities. The parks, he said, would use the universities' faculty and students to conduct research.
"It gives the kids jobs to help them pay their way through college, it's a way for college faculty to augment their salaries, the businesses that come in are getting research from some of the best people, and they can get a look at these kids and figure out which ones they want to bring in as part of their permanent staff," he said.
Barnett said South Dakota exports too much corn, cattle, kids and capital.
"The worst thing that we do is export capital, because capital is jobs, and jobs is where the kids are going to go," he said. "We've got to turn that flow around."
He said he plans, as governor, to personally visit former South Dakotans who today are successful businesspersons in other parts of the nation, and convince them to return to their home state to live and operate their businesses.
"I can go to those former South Dakotans, and any person in any business that doesn't live here," Barnett said, "and say, 'we don't have an income tax, and we aren't going to have an income tax, and we don't have an inheritance tax, so come back home to South Dakota.'"
* He told Vermillion residents that he plans to build a better education system in South Dakota.
When he was young, he said, he read newspaper stories about the "brain drain" in the state, and the fact that South Dakota lacks a scholarship program.
"Here we are 35 years later, and we're still losing kids and we still don't have a scholarship program," Barnett said. "There is a connection � kids will go to school where we make it affordable for them to go to school."
He added that kids will tend to get jobs and live and work and pay taxes in the communities and the states where they got their college educations.
"We need to get kids to get their educations here, and a scholarship is a way to do it," Barnett said.
He added that South Dakota must also stop its high rate of teacher turnover.
"I believe we can do these things within the existing budget," he said. "I have worked with the state budget for many years, and I've had my own budget to run for 12 years. Part of what you need and should expect and demand of the next governor is that he can manage the budget. There is going to be a $36 million structural deficit wrapped up with a red bow waiting for me when I get there."
Barnett said he is the only candidate in the governor's race who has hands-on, full-time management and budgeting experience.
Barnett also quickly and briefly revealed that he is committed to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is pro-life, and opposes the expansion of gaming in South Dakota.
He added that South Dakota must find ways to collectively purchase prescription medications to help make the drugs more affordable.