Dennis Daugaard was sworn in as governor of South Dakota on January 8, 2011, and was sworn in for his second term on January 6, 2015.
Daugaard has emphasized job creation, sound fiscal management and efficient government operation. During his first year in office, Daugaard worked with the legislature to eliminate a $127 million structural deficit, without raising taxes. In 2013, Daugaard joined with the Chief Justice and legislative leaders to conduct an inter-branch, bipartisan study of the state’s criminal justice system. This led to bipartisan passage of comprehensive reform legislation for both systems to increase public safety, hold offenders more accountable and control escalating costs.
After earning his law degree, Daugaard passed the Illinois bar exam and worked in the Chicago area for three years. In 1981, he returned to South Dakota and worked for what is now U.S. Bank in Sioux Falls. Nine years later, Daugaard left the bank and began working for the Children’s Home Foundation, the fundraising arm of Children’s Home Society of South Dakota. He worked for 19 years, first as development director and then as chief operating officer.
Daugaard was elected to the state senate in 1996. From 1996 to 2002 Daugaard served in the state senate and was a member of the State Affairs, Commerce, Education, Taxation, Judiciary, and Government Operations & Audit committees. In June 2002, Daugaard began his two-term period as the lieutenant governor of South Dakota. As lieutenant governor, Daugaard served as president of the Senate, was instrumental in the creation of the SD Ellsworth Development Authority and was a leader of the SD Honor Flight program.
Daugaard graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1975 and earned his law degree from Northwestern University.