Parties look for common ground


Mitch Fargen

Editor’s Note: 2007 gradute of SDSU Mitch Fargen now represents District 8, Moody county, in Pierre.

This year is South Dakota’s 84th Legislative session, and it is my first year serving District 8 and our state in Pierre. This is going to be a really tough year for all decision makers in Pierre because there are so many downfalls with the tax revenues coming into the state, but this also creates an opportunity for the Legislature to really learn how the budget and the state government work. The Legislature can really get in there and rework the budget, look at programs that don’t work efficiently and make the necessary cuts that can be justified. I have been working with the Democratic Party leaders and we found many opportunities to make some cuts in the state budget that will have very little impact outside of the state government, and this will give us some money to put towards our budget deficit. I feel the first thing we need to do is look at the state government’s budget and really cut that down before taking services away from the public. I will not support any cuts in the Medicaid and Education budgets. These are the budgets that I will support: all funding that is mandated by state law and also all funding that we could get matching federal monies.

I am on the Education and Commerce committees. I was really happy to hear that I will be working on education and commerce legislation because I feel that being on these two committees will really benefit District 8. During my campaign, the two most talked about issues were education funding and economic development. Most of the bills in committee I have already dealt with have been from the Department of Education and the Department of Revenue. These bills are usually just small changes in policy or cleanup bills to make the government run more efficiently.

By this time, everyone has probably heard that Gov. Rounds presented his budget to the Legislature and made some very big cuts to some programs and state positions. I know not everyone is going to agree with the cuts the Governor made, but at least, we finally have a starting point to launch from. Both Democrats and Republicans have already started working on their budgets and trying to find common ground with each other. My priorities are going to be fighting for and keeping all education and Medicaid funding. In this time of need we cannot be cutting programs from children and those that need it most.

Also, I want to say 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 get positive results coming out of Pierre. If you have any concerns please e-mail me at [email protected] or call me at 605-773-3851.