Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dennis Daugaard: Grandpa Cheap

Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State Address can be boiled down to this family anecdote, delivered at the end of his lengthy opening discussion of his first policy priority, fixing South Dakota's roads:

You know, just last week Linda and I welcomed the birth of our fourth grandchild, Greta.

It reminded me of when our first grandchild, Henry was born. Some of you have heard this before. I asked Henry's dad how they planned to distinguish between me and Henry's other grandfather. I thought maybe "grandpa" and "papa." He said, "Well, we are going to call the other grandfather, 'Grandpa Fat.'" "Oh," I said. "What will you call me – 'Grandpa Thin'?" "No," he replied. "We are going to call you 'Grandpa Cheap'" [link added; Governor Dennis Daugaard, State of the State Address, as transcribed by that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.01.13].

[Insert the only editorial comment from legislators during the State of the State Address: hearty laughter.]

I suppose that's about right, but I would really prefer, "Grandpa Frugal." You know me. No one wants to raise taxes less than I do. But as I've said before, there is a difference between being "frugal" and being "cheap." A cheap person refuses to spend money even when it would be wise to do so. A frugal person is careful with money, but understands that sometimes spending in the short term can pay bigger dividends in the long term.

That is today's situation. Maintaining our roads and bridges is one of the most basic functions of government and it is vital – for this year and for decades to come. I don't want to leave this problem to future governors, future legislators, and future generations [Daugaard, 2015.01.13].

A cheap person refuses to spend money even when it would be wise to do so. Raising teacher pay to competitive rates would be wise. Expanding Medicaid would be wise. Promoting renewable energy and efficiency would be wise. But Governor Daugaard refuses to spend money on those policies.

South Dakota, brace yourself for four more years of Grandpa Cheap.

P.S.: Credit where credit is due: the originator of this phrase is the Governor's chief of staff and son-in-law Tony Venhuizen.


  1. Steve Sibson 2015.01.14

    Grandpa Tax and Spend Liberal is more like it. Tens of trillions of dollars in debt is not frugal and it is not cheap.

  2. larry kurtz 2015.01.14

    Good morning, Hun: encouraging to see some things never evolve.

  3. cheap cheap 2015.01.14

    Will someone look into what he has been done to Unemployment Benefits? I am no liberal (not even close) but I am outraged at the treatment that the unemployed receive from these guys. We have a very low unemployment rate but, over the last several years, they have really put the screws to the unfortunate.

    They have cut benefits to the lowest in the nation (as a percentage of unemployed) and of those who do receive them, it isn't for long.

    I have not seen any news coverage of this but I have heard from friends who had to deal with these chumps. They won't do anything to help you sign up and hound you until you drop off.

    Alaska provides benefits for about 80 percent of unemployed. South Dakota, I believe, is under 20 percent.

    Frugal? I have other words.

  4. Rorschach 2015.01.14

    How cheap was Grandpa when it came to setting Tonnis Venhuizen's salary?

    No really. How much does the son-in-law get paid? I'm thinking Tonnis should instruct the little ones to call the governor Sugar Daddy Grandpa.

  5. cheap cheap 2015.01.14

    That "Son in Law" Degree can get you a long way in life.

    Why do so many politicians think that the guy or gal standing next to them is the most qualified person in the country to fill an important position? Come on. Use some objectivity.

    We can all recall George Bush nominating Harriet Myers for the Supreme Court. More recently, Thune made an interesting choice for Chief of Staff. Now Daugaard hires the son in law? I am a Republican but I am a bit troubled when I see this so often.

    I am not saying that they are poor choices. I do not know them. I am questioning whether or not they are the best choice. The odds are not good.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.14

    Grandpa Cheap is not a liberal. What the hell is wrong with you Sibson?

  7. tara volesky 2015.01.14

    Cheap Grandpa is a Crony Capitalist Republican.

  8. CLCJM 2015.01.14

    Cory, you were apparently thinking exactly the same thing I was,except you found a few more examples than I did. Now I have a new nickname ror DD. I've been referring to himy as Dudley Dowrong but I thint I might like GrandPA Cheap might even be better. What I really think is amazing is that he actually told this story in a major public policy speech to the legilature! It really put a target on himself!

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    CLCJM, is it time for some billboards?

  10. John 2015.01.14

    We bring in all the experts in transportation and do a summer study. The experts say we need 100 million. Papa cheap says he is willing to go half way at $50 mill. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  11. grudznick 2015.01.14

    Mr. Sibson, I always like your analysis and math. Can you share with us where Grandpa Cheap has us South Dakotans trillions of dollars in debt? If you do that I will personally have my best and most favorite gravy taters delivered to your office. And send Mr. Dusty and invitation to join you, I know you see him at your coffee house.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.15

    No kidding, John! In his post-speech press conference, Governor Daugaard said he's proposing his alternative plan as a response to opposition he's heard from organizations and legislators to the bigger, more expensive committee plan. He appears to think Senate Bill 1 is less likely to get the two-thirds vote than his plan.

    But again, there is the Daugaardian lack of vision and grasp of his mandate. He led the party to a swamping of Democrats. He got the biggest vote margin for a Governor ever in South Dakota. He's got GOP supermajorities, and Democrats don't have a lot of reason to oppose fixing roads. Governor Daugaard could wield a really big stick here and make Senate Bill 1 pass if he wanted. What good is a mandate if you don't use it to govern boldly?

    Grandpa Cheap? Maybe we should say Grandpa Cheep Cheep... or Grandpa Chicken.

  13. Douglas Wiken 2015.01.15

    Cheap, Cheap, Cheap...Daugaard is an old bird with new feathers and lipstick.

  14. GoJacksJC/Jake Cummings 2015.01.15

    Rorschach, the site indicates Venhuizen's salary is $115k; however, I am not sure if that reflects his fairly recent promotion.

    By the way, if you want to check salary information, you may use the following procedure: visit, maximize "Payroll Information" from the list of options on left side of screen by clicking the "plus" sign, select "Employees" from the resulting options, search by employee's name, and click "Display Employee" button under the search fields.

  15. mike from iowa 2015.01.15

    cheap cheap-the best choice for what? is the question. Nepotism could be the answer. You hire a SIL,for a goodly sum of tax payer bucks you shouldn't have to worry if he can support his family-your daughter and G-kids. Maybe he wants to keep a close on on his SIL and wants the people to pay for it. Who knows?

  16. CLCJM 2015.01.17

    Worse than the cheap and lack of leadership is the hypocrisy. They fire or block secretaries for the Democratic minority because of conflict of interest but nepotism by hiring your own SIL is ethical? But even if this was put in Dowrong's face he'd have a built in excuse or justification some how. What it really means is anything they do is all right but everyone else is held to some ethereal ever changing, just out of reach standard.

Comments are closed.