M. Michael “Mike” Rounds, the oldest of 11 children, was born in Huron, South Dakota and is a lifelong resident of Pierre. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from South Dakota State University in Brookings. From 1991 to 2000, Rounds served five terms in the South Dakota State Senate. In 1995, he was chosen by his peers to serve as senate majority leader, a post he held for six years.
Rounds was sworn-in as South Dakota’s 31st governor on January 7, 2003, and re-elected in 2006. Since taking office, Rounds has been committed to growing South Dakota’s economy, improving the daily lives of South Dakota citizens and providing opportunities for young people to stay in South Dakota. Working together with the legislature and citizens of South Dakota, he balanced the state budget, reduced the structural deficit and created a sales tax relief program on food for individuals within 150 percent of the poverty level.
Rounds reorganized the Department of Education to better embrace the concepts of "No Child Left Behind." During his tenure, funding in the state aid to education formula grew from $3,889 to $4,496 per student. As part of Rounds’ vision for education in South Dakota, the 2010 Education (2010E) Initiative was created. This plan was developed to guide South Dakota’s public education system into the next decade by establishing measurable goals, identifying objectives and outlining specific action steps. In addition, 2,400 new scholarships were created to encourage college students to stay in South Dakota and he secured over $27 million in external funding by opening six university research centers to provide our students graduate work and jobs created by the research.
Under Rounds’ leadership, a law was passed to regulate pharmacy benefits management companies; important clean water projects were funded; recreational opportunities were expanded; the Missouri River Summit was initiated to discuss the management of the Missouri River; and the 2010 Economic Development Initiative was designed to set goals for economic growth and visitor spending in South Dakota.