Press Release: Sutton Champions Early Childhood Education with Broad Support from Education and Religious Community

Senator Sutton with son Liam.

Senator Sutton with son Liam.


Senator Billie Sutton—a rancher, financial professional at a small community bank, former professional rodeo cowboy, fifth-generation South Dakotan, and candidate for Governor—issued the following statement regarding committee action taken on legislation he proposed to establish an Early Learning Advisory Council to explore the needs and economic benefits of early childhood education in South Dakota:

“One of our state’s strongest needs is improving our workforce and economic condition. My day job is in investments, and early childhood education has proven to be a great investment with an estimated $7-$13 economic gain for every $1 invested. In a state where 76% of families have two parents working outside the home, quality preschool is also a real dollars and cents issue for families struggling to balance the financial demands of life and raising children.

Yet, over half of South Dakota’s three and four year-olds go without early learning. That is why I proposed bipartisan legislation—with 25 other legislative co-sponsors and support from nine other citizens and education and religious groups—to create a council to study early childhood education and assess the needs in South Dakota.

Despite South Dakota being one of only five states in the nation without an Early Learning Advisory Council and despite compelling testimony about the economic and social benefits realized through early learning, the political status-quo in Pierre rejected the chance to study the needs and benefits of early education. I am disappointed South Dakota once again missed an opportunity to strengthen our workforce though the higher employability and earning potential that accompanies early learning, but I remain committed to advancing the needs of our families, children, and future of South Dakota.”