South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who has emerged as a star in the political firmament, is rejecting the extra $300 President Trump has established for a federal unemployment benefit.
A federal benefit of $600 in addition to state benefits was provided until the benefit expired July 31 and the President issued an executive order for a $400 federal benefit. States would have to chip in $100 to bring it to the full $400.
It is logical to assume that the generous $600 unemployment benefit kept some unemployed longer.
It is unheard of for a state to reject federal money, but Noem has done the unheard of.
She says South Dakota is doing okay without it:
“My administration is very grateful for the additional flexibility that this effort would have provided, but South Dakota is in the fortunate position of not needing to accept it,” Noem said in a statement on Friday. “South Dakota’s economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses. South Dakota is the only state in the nation that didn’t have extended benefits kick in because our insured unemployment rate has been the lowest in the nation.”
Maybe not having those extended benefits contributed to the South Dakota’s lowest unemployment rate?
Governor Noem has charted a different course from most states throughout the shutdowns. As we noted in an IWF Champion Women profile:
In a way, Noem is the anti-Gretchen Whitmer—or maybe Michigan Governor Whitmer, who became famous for her heavy-handed COVID-19 crack-down, is the anti-Noem. Two women, two states, and two very different ideas about governance. Noem had a scientific and legal team advising her on COVID-19, but decided on information instead of heavy-handed rules.
“My approach to this virus was to provide South Dakotans with all the information that I could, and then trust them to exercise their freedom to make the best decision for themselves and for their families,” Noem told reporters. Noem did not issue stay-at-home orders or shut down businesses. The state provided up-to-date information on the virus, including trend data, precautions, and testing. She encouraged South Dakotans to follow CDC guidelines but did not order them to do so. Most infuriatingly to many, Noem allowed the first statewide trial of the controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
It was a pouncing moment for left-leaning pundits.
You can’t compare conditions in the sparsely-populated South Dakota to those in densely-populated New York, ground zero for the ravages of COVID-19. But one things you can say so far for the South Dakota way is that it appears to have been a success, without putting undue restraints on the liberty of citizens.