Pierre Direct Line by Rep. Judy Clark The first week of this session is drawing to a close as I write this. As always the first week is relatively quiet as legislators draft and refine their bills and scramble to find sponsors. Most committees are not yet meeting since few bills have been filed.
However, those of us who serve on the Appropriations Committee start our work the first day hearing agency budgets. So far we have heard the Department of Corrections, Department of Education and Cultural Affairs, Secretary of State, and Bureau of Information and Telecommunications. Corrections and Education are two of the largest budgets and we will probably have both back again to answer more questions and clarify some information.
One reason that I have asked to continue to serve on Appropriations is that institutional memory is so important in order to keep track of money and programs from year to year. I keep careful notes on the testimony we hear. For instance, one of the easiest items to lose in the new budget are last year's "one time appropriations" which disappear into the base budget never to be differentiated or accounted for again.
I want our state agencies to always have sufficient funds to do their jobs effectively. But money which accumulates in an agency's budget after the need is satisfied should be redirected to another defined use or to another agency for other state needs that we as your representatives agree are important. It should not become a discretionary fund for the department's pet projects.
Another facet of this job, one which is enjoyable, is the chance to have breakfast with the young members of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). I'm always so impressed with the sense of purpose and commitment I see in these people. They are all so bright! Steven Beuchler from Centerville, who I sat next to, is one of these future leaders.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 605-773-3851. I'd like to hear from you.