Letters Just a thought
To the editor:
I read with interest the ad for Vote No on Amendment B. The South Dakota Education Association and others are concerned about saving tax dollars for the public schools. Their money might be better spent encouraging people to vote pro life.
One of the major problems school districts face is declining
enrollment. Each year close to 800 babies are aborted in South Dakota. If you take this number times 13 grades (K thru 12), you come up with over 10,000 children that are not attending South Dakota schools because they are simply not here.
It's just a thought.
Good for district
To the editor:
B.J. Nesselhuf is a good legislator! I have watched him work in Pierre and I have talked with his colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans.
They will tell you he is open minded, fair, and will work bipartisan as much as anybody there. He will tell you what he believes and will do what he says he will do. District 17 needs him.
Food tax 'devastating' plan
To the editor:
The voters of South Dakota will be asked in the November election to vote on an initiated measure that would repeal the sales tax on food in this state. The measurer's stated justification is that a sales tax on food is "unfair to the poor." However, the poor no longer pay sales taxes on food as the state returns their tax payment monies to them after the passage last year of a law proposed by Gov. Rounds.
Eligibility for Gov. Rounds' refund plan is set at an income level 50 percent higher than the federal definition ($28,275 for a family of four), so more people will avoid the tax. Hence, this proposed repeal is really for the benefit of the middle and wealthy groups.
The average savings for the middle class and wealthy groups will amount to approximately $4 per week for a family of four according to the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management.
The passage will have dramatic impact on the state general fund as well as cities and others. The South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management estimates, based on the current fiscal year, the following shortfalls in revenues: State of South Dakota _ $41,000,000; Cities � $20,000,000; Tribes � $800,000; Total � $61,800,000.
The passage will result in $41,000,000 shortfall of revenue to the state general fund that already had a deficit of $28,000,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2004 as a result of the initiated measure that repealed estate taxes in the state in 2002. A $69,000,000, total general fund deficit will almost certainly result in dramatic cuts in education and other budgets for services to our citizens.
How will the state be able to pay the approximately 50 percent of the cost of the local school system expenses that it currently pays if its revenues are continually cut by isolating one element of the funding source (sales tax in this instance) and then repealing that one element? Will state law then allow property tax increases to make up this 50 percent?
How do cities pay for bus services, libraries, police and fire protection and community development, etc. etc., without these revenues? How does the state pay for developments like the Homestake Mine Laboratory with this huge deficit? Will the state cut back the monies paid to counties that have held down property taxes by some 20 percent and allow counties to raise property taxes accordingly?
This measure is not tax reform. "Tax reform" is done in a comprehensive way so that important and essential programs are not devastated and not by looking at one element in isolation, and voting on one isolated element at a time.
What really is the agenda here? This measure is proposed by the very people who have traditionally attempted to impose an income tax in South Dakota. South Dakotans have rejected those efforts overwhelmingly time and again.
Continued on page 5A
This "food tax" measure is clearly part of an attempt to render the sales tax revenues, over time and by small steps, incapable of supporting state and local government activities so that the state will be "forced" to impose a scheme of income taxation.
This measure is a bad plan, brought forth in the wrong way and will produce results and new taxes that no one can predict. If passed, it will squander all the state's painstakingly accumulated reserve funds in two or, at the most, three years. If passed, odds are great that state support for local governments and schools will be cut and that the state will repeal the 3 percent cap on property tax increases to allow property taxes to increase at the discretion of the local governments without the necessity of local votes.
If passed, K-12 and post high school education will be devastated in that these items make up over 50 percent of the state's current general fund budget and will almost certainly be drastically cut.
The repeal of sales tax on food is a bad bill. It is a creeping income tax bill for a modest amount of money and the vote should be overwhelmingly no.
Harvey Jewett, President
S.D. Board of Regents
To the editor:
Ben Nesselhuf has represented the people of District 17 very well as House Representative the past four years. His experience will serve us well in the Senate. He has established good relationships with leade rs across the state of South Dakota and across the aisle. During his tenure in the House, Ben was an effective voice for South Dakota families as he worked to support the scholarship program in the House.
His voice was also instrumental in preparing an emergency clause that changed the state purchasing law that hampered and limited departments throughout the university and state system. We support Ben (B.J.) Nesselhuf for State Senator from District 17.
Frank and Mary Main
To the editor:
It was a hot, windy September day when nearly 50 riders rode their bikes from Jolley School to Burbank for a worthy cause ��the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
The event raised $2,000 and was done in memory of Dexter Johnson, son of Jeannie Pickett and Shannon Johnson. A silver plaque has been placed in Dexter's memory in the Tribute Area of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Sierra Johnson collected $372 and was the winner of the bike donated by Rasmussen's Motors and Nygren's True Value. Elly Melby won the Super Slim Portable CD player; Heidi Harkness was the recipient of the silver-minted coin given by First National Bank; Kyle Pickett, $50 Savings Bond by Community First; and Sarah Szymorski, $50 Bond from CorTrust Bank.
The youngest rider, Mason Pickett, 6 years old, rode all the way to Burbank and back again.
A special thanks to Ross Mockler, Ric Rasmussen and Ranee O'Connor who drove pick-ups to help riders along the way, the registration and lunch committees and the Vermillion police and sheriff departments who were responsible for a safe ride.
Special recognition goes to the Vermillion Plain Talk and the Broadcaster for the excellent publicity to help promote the ride.
Several businesses donated food and prizes for the ride ? a gift of gratitude to them.
Research findings at St. Jude are shared with doctors and scientists all over the world. The hospital treats children without regard to race, religion, creed or ability to pay. Families without insurance are never asked to pay.
The children of St. Jude and the event coordinator express sincere appreciation to the Vermillion community for their charitable donations and generosity for a worthy cause. Thank you, Vermillion, for being a caring community
Mary Geffre Johnson
Wheels-For-Life Bike-A-Thon Coordinator 2004
Accomplishments speak loudly
To the editor:
The businesses and citizens of Vermillion are greatly indebted to Sen. Thomas Daschle. If it had not been for Sen. Daschle, the Newcastle/Vermillion Missouri River Bridge would not be here today.
The project had been stopped by the South Dakota Department of Transportation during the summer of 1996, according to Jim Jensen, for lack of funds after $16.5 million had already been secured for the project.
I met with Sen. Daschle in the Alex Johnson Hotel in Rapid City on Oct. 10, 1996 where he was holding meetings with the National Forest Service. After their meeting, I asked Sen. Daschle if he had a few minutes to visit about the Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge project. He said, "Jim, what is the status of the project?" When I told him that the project had been stopped for lack of funds, he said when he got back to Washington he would meet with the chairman of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund and see if more funds could be secured for the Missouri River Bridge project.
Approximately two weeks later, Sarah Dahlin from Sen. Tim Johnson's Senate Office came into our office with the authorization for $7.4 million for the state of South Dakota from the U.S. Highway Trust Fund with the understanding that $4.4 million of that amount would go to the construction of the Newcastle/Vermillion Missouri River Bridge project.
The project was again put into motion and the ground breaking ceremony was held on July 22, 2000 and the dedication of the project on Nov. 10, 2001. This is just one of many projects across the state of South Dakota that Sen. Daschle has been a strong voice for South Dakota.
He deserves our support and is to be commended for his support to a bridge that was tagged the bridge to nowhere!
Co-Chair, Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge Committee
Clark's knowledge needed in Senate
To the editor:
On Nov. 2 South Dakotans will be voting on Initiated Measure 1, which would eliminate sales tax on food items. Should it pass cities would be hit twice. First the school districts could lose about $100 per student and towns would lose their share of the 2 percent on food sales.
Individuals and some legislators tell us the savings would generate income from taxes on other goods that people would purchase. According to statistics, the state receives $40,000,000 from the 4 percent tax on food sales. Municipalities receive $19,000,000 from the 2 percent on food sales. Let's assume all of the $40,000,000 in saving were to be spent on other goods at 4 percent. The tax would bring in $1,600,000. Cities would receive $400,000 from the extra 2 percent on sales. This would result in a tremendous loss for the state and cities.
Some legislators claim the loss could be made up from surplus funds. Yes, the state has money but recently the people voted three or four years ago to place much of the money into trust funds. Only a certain amount can be transferred to the general fund. Let's remember funds also draw interest but once the principle is depleted, interest also stops.
South Dakotans already pay the least amount in taxes. Yes, states around us do not tax food but they do have an income tax. Car licenses in Nebraska cost more for one car than we spend on food taxes for one year.
All of us should know that we cannot lose $60,000,000 and keep funding programs at the current level. Is the motive to force us into a state income tax? Vote � against the initiative.
The Argus Leader states that Rep. Ben Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion, plans to submit a bill to increase the city sales tax cap if the repeal is approved. Ben is one of the legislators behind Initiative 1. If the purpose is to lower taxes, why increase taxes?
We have an opportunity to elect an individual who is well versed in the finances of the state. Please vote for Judy Clark for state senator.
Ken Wurtz, Vermillion
Voting is important
To the editor:
Why is it important to vote?
I think that voting is important because just one vote could change anything.
It is good to vote because your voice gets heard. You have the choice of what you want to vote for because we are free in the United States so we have the right to vote.
We have informed voting so we know what we are voting for. In some other places in the world they get to vote but they don't always know what they are voting for.
That's why we are blessed to be Americans and have the right to vote on what we want!
That's what I think about voting and why it's important.
St. Agnes School
Time to conserve
To the editor:
The attempt to connect Sen. Daschle to the cost of fuel compels me to write this letter. The 4.3 cents per gallon federal tax increase was the result of a bipartisan effort to increase and balance the Federal Highway Trust Fund, South Dakota's primary source of revenue for highway projects.
The current tax rate for gas is 18.4 cents federal and 24 cents state. For ethanol blend the rate is 13.2 cents federal and 22 cents state. Diesel is 24.4 cents federal and 24 cents state. If the tax rates are the issue, the ethanol alternative advanced by Sen. Daschle for over 20 years provides relief.
It is our consumption, not the tax structure, which is driving the increasing fuel prices. The current Administration fails to mention or encourage energy conservation.
Obeying and enforcing speed limits, lowering speed limits and emphasizing the use of ethanol and bio-diesel are options which lower fuel consumption and crude oil cost.
Even at current prices, too many drivers do not practice conservation measures or use alternatives. Lowering the federal tax by 4.3 cents ($43 per 1,000 gallons) will not reduce consumption; that requires leadership emphasizing conservation and use of alternative energy advocated by Sen. Daschle.
To the editor:
Are the people of South Dakota "bought and paid for?" It appears so if you listen to political ads: "Vote for Politician A, he brings home the most pork!" or "Don't vote for Politician B because he didn't deliver the pork!" Don't we realize that nearly all monies politicians bring back to our state were stolen from "we, the taxpayers" in the first place?
If you're simply voting your pocketbook, you have the choice of both political parties, as both seem hellbent on wild-eyed government spending.
The national agendas, however, of the Republican and Democrat parties could not be more different. For example:
1. The Republican Party supports national sovereignty and "no permission slip" to protect Americans, while the Democrat Party wants France and the United Nation's (UN) permission.
2. The Republican Party supports fighting terrorists on foreign soil, while it's unknown when or if the Democrat Party would fight terrorists.
3. The Republican Party wants to protect and improve the world's best health care system, while the Democrat Party seeks to reduce it to socialized medicine with mandated doctors and long waiting lines.
4. The Republican Party supports the selection of judges who will respect the Constitution and rule of law, while the Democrat Party supports judges who attack the Pledge of Allegiance, marriage, Boy Scouts, you name it.
5. The Republican Party respects the uniqueness of the sexes and their contribution to the family by supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment, while the Democrat Party seeks to destroy the family with same-sex marriage and/or civil unions.
6. The Republican Party believes in "putting people first," while the Democrat Party embraces the radical environmentalist movement that often puts animal rights first, i.e. "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." (Ingrid Newkirk)
7. The Republican Party supports the development of natural resources in the United States, while the Democrat Party wants to keep us dependent on foreign oil. (Question: You don't suppose foreign oil dependence has anything to do with skyrocketing gas prices, do you?)
8. The Republican Party supports a strong military, while the Democrat Party leaders have voted for years to underfund and undercut our military in nearly every way possible.
9. The Republic Party supports patriotism and invites great men like Democrat Zell Miller to speak at their convention, while the Democrat Party invites Michael Moore, who hates America, to their convention. (Note: It was Moore who said, "There is no terrorist threat in this country." Remember when he said Americans were the "dumbest people on the planet" and that we were a "nation of idiots?")
Please understand these are differences in agendas, not beliefs of individual Republicans or Democrats. Your vote will support one of these agendas.
Choose well for yourself, your children and grandchildren.
Troy R. Mader
Clark puts District 17 first
To the editor:
Judy Clark and I served together in House of Representatives two years ago. Judy was a woman with a mission and that was to serve the people of her district and the state.
She served on the Appropriations Committee with intense commitment and fortitude to ensure our citizens that our tax dollars were expended wisely and efficiently. She would research the funding requests and sources to make sure they reflected the needs of this state. There was more than one occasion when she would raise the tough questions as to why are we are spending dollars on projects that impact few people?
On the floor she debated issues factually and professionally and respected her peers during the process.
Judy was recognized for her interest in improving the health status of our citizens. She was selected by the American Cancer Society to serve as a member of a statewide Steering Committee for planning a process to develop a Comprehensive Cancer Plan for this state. Judy's analysis of the issues includes exploring both the pros and cons and working toward achieving consensus on the best path for creating a better South Dakota.
On election day return Judy Clark to the state Legislature; she will be a senator that puts District 17 first.
Rep. Jean Hunhoff