Having the guts to make decisions a key aspect in a politician’s career


Mitch Fargen

Well, the South Dakota State Legislature is running at full steam, starting with my education and commerce committees having a full slate of bills all week. It looks like it’s not letting up for a while, either. In my education committee, the hot issues have been bills dealing with the consolidation issue and a mandate from the state to close schools at enrollments less than 100 students. We had three bills dealing with this issue: the first one was trying to suspend the rule of consolidation for two years, which failed, and the second one gave an exception to schools if they were the last school still in that county, which made it through committee. The third bill, which was defeated, was to raise the 100-student forced consolidation rule to 195 students. These three bills really brought our committee some excitement, and it showed how progressive our education committee is compared to the past. There are some young, open-minded people on this committee who really work well with each other to do the best for the people of South Dakota.

One thing that is certain is that Gov. Rounds is pushing the Legislature to propose a tax increase, and already his administration has passed many fee increases onto the people. I could tell with his revised budget and also how his office is pushing their agenda that he wants a tax increase, but Gov. Rounds does not want his name to be on it. He also said that the Legislature is “lacking the guts” to raise revenues for programs that are facing his budget cuts this year. I believe Gov. Rounds is the one with no guts, as he has not proposed any solutions or taken any leadership in this budget crisis. The Governor cut programs that will hurt important education and health programs that affect children, seniors and the unfortunate people in this state without looking at his own personal budget. That lacks guts to me.

Gov. Rounds is showing no leadership with the budget and is blaming the Legislature for all of its downfalls in the past. He is not coming up with any solutions on to how to solve it besides the hopes that President Obama will help us with his stimulus package. We need real solutions this year for our budget, and we cannot count on the federal government to bail us out like Gov. Rounds is hoping. We need to find money inside the government to fund the good programs that the governor cut. I know we can look at selling four out of the six airplanes the executive branch has, cut out our South Dakota lobbyist that makes over $200,000, open up no-bid contracts that will save money for the state, cut 2 percent throughout general funds, except for education and Medicaid, increase the state’s cut from video lottery and the Deadwood gaming and cut legislative travel outside of the state.

I am sorry I am being negative in this column, but when we have a governor that blames the entire downfall of the budget on the Legislature and then does not come up with any solutions to the problems of this state, I get a little upset. Especially when I am getting phone calls, e-mails and mail from people in our district who are concerned about whether their child can get access to the Birth to 3 program or if the state is going to match the federal government for the Medicaid program or if their school will have to shut down because they are not getting the increasing or decreasing enrollment-based program moneys. All of these programs are needed and cannot be cut just because Gov. Rounds is lacking leadership and is not willing to cut his own personal budget in a crisis like this.

Again, I am not willing to raise taxes or fees on the people in South Dakota until we look into our own state government pocketbook and make necessary cuts. I feel that the governor is passing the problem on to the Legislature, and we are looking at passing the problem onto the people of South Dakota. Again, I am not willing to raise taxes or fees on the people of South Dakota unless the money generated through that will be earmarked to education, health care and helping the unfortunate in South Dakota.

Again, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent you out here in Pierre. It is a great honor, and I am very excited to hopefully get positive results coming out of Pierre this year. There are still a lot of decisions that have to be made, so I look forward to your continued advice and ideas. If you have any concerns, please e-mail me at [email protected] or call me at (605)-773-3851.