The South Dakota legislature voted in favor of increasing state salaries and in July, state employees received a 2.5% pay raise.

Governor Kristi Noem’s daughter was among them. Kennedy Noem works for her mother as a policy analyst. 

But another big hike in Kennedy Noem’s salary has taken place since July.

Coincidentally, it was at about exactly this time last year KELOLAND News reported that Governor-elect Kristi Noem hired her daughter, Kennedy as part of her transition team.

Since then, Kennedy’s salary has jumped from just over $40,000 a year to nearly $60,000.

When Gov. Noem hired daughter Kennedy in 2018, she hadn’t even graduated from South Dakota State University yet.

At the time KELOLAND News learned that Kennedy Noem was being paid $40,700 for the position in her mother’s office. She became a policy analyst in January and her salary rose to $50,000.

In July, along with all other state employees, Kennedy Noem got a 2.5% salary boost, bringing her income to $51,250.

But according to Governor Noem’s recent budget address, state employees shouldn’t expect the same this year.

“Due to the lack of revenue growth, I will not be able to recommend inflationary increase for education or Medicaid providers or for state employee salaries,” Gov. Noem said in her budget address on December 2.

While Governor Noem may not be recommending any inflationary increases for state employees, her daughter Kennedy received yet another pay hike since July.

According to South Dakota’s transparency website, Open SD, Kennedy Noem is now making $57,912 a year.  That’s a nearly 12% pay increase in five months.

Now Kennedy Noem is making nearly half of what her mom, the governor, makes. Kristi Noem’s salary is $116,400. The mayor of Sioux Falls, Paul TenHaken, makes more than the governor at $127,940.

Governor Noem’s office replied to our questions in an email which reads:

“Kennedy Noem’s salary increased after she was assigned more duties. Those duties include more policy work and additional responsibilities. Like most employers, we review compensation on a periodic basis to ensure salary is aligned with job duties.”

Emily Kiel, Communications Director, Office of the Governor

The governor’s son-in-law Kyle Peters, who is married to Noem’s other daughter, works for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development as well and draws a salary of nearly $60,000.

Our initial report on Kennedy Noem’s hiring goes into detail about the long-standing practice of nepotism in the South Dakota Governor’s office.