Elect more Democrats to Pierre, balance power, says reader


Elections &- blah &- who wants to think about politics when there’s today and tomorrow and the rest of my life to worry about? SDSU Jackrabbits, that’s who!

As SDSU students we have been directly affected by South Dakota’s unwillingness to adequately fund state universities. During the last legislative session, we had to fight to save the Opportunity Scholarship and Tech Fellows programs. In spite of increasing enrollment, we lost funding for at least seven positions campus-wide, plus another eight to Extension and the Ag Experiment Station. In these non-inflationary times, our tuition goes up 4.6 percent because that’s the only way the Board of Regents can plug the holes in the budget dike. Our campus struggles to compete for faculty because of our low salaries. Any campus improvements get paid for by our student activity fees or private donations, or they don’t get built, and maintenance and repair budgets lag years behind need.

All states are experiencing budget problems, so all higher ed. institutions are suffering budget cutbacks. But since South Dakota has ALWAYS run a tight ship, this new round of cuts and refusal to participate in the cost of serving more students is dropping us to a whole new basement level.

The Government Research Bureau’s recent study results prove that higher education is an investment that pays big dividends. The campuses have brought in record amounts of research grants in the last year. The college campuses are some of the biggest economic engines in the state. Why then does the Republican-dominated legislature continue to treat higher education like a naughty stepchild?

South Dakota hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 1978. The same party has been in control in Pierre for over 30 years, and a sense of entitlement and ownership has crept in. Top state bureaucrats are expected to, and do, make $1,000 contributions to the campaigns of their Republican bosses. Legislative districts get gerrymandered into nooks and crannies carved for the benefit of particular senators and representatives. Good legislative ideas proposed by Democrats get shot down by the majority party one year and resurface the next year under Republican sponsorship, and pass!

It’s time to elect more Democrats to Pierre. Do they have all the answers? No, but a more even balance of power will help make government more responsive to everyone, not just those who have been in control for so long. Vote Democrat on November 2!

— Hassan Ali

Send letters to [email protected] or to USU 069 Box 2815, Brookings, S.D. 57006.