Legislative View By Sen. Ben Nesselhuf The 80th session of the South Dakota Legislature convened on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The opportunities and challenges facing the good people of South Dakota in 2005 are significant.
In the Senate, an energized Democratic delegation is making plans to secure the financial future of South Dakotans. We will accomplish this by asserting fiscal responsibility in regards to the state budget. I am committed to the people's business.
In the 2005 session, I plan to engage issues such as rural economic development, education, and health care with renewed vigor.
Session opened with Gov. Michael Rounds' State of the State address. I was pleased with the governor's overdue recognition of South Dakota as a leader in the field of renewable energy.
Bio-diesel, ethanol, and wind energy are essential for South Dakota's economic development and the sanctity of our environment.
The governor's address, however, failed to deliver on several counts. The continued ambiguity involving FTEs and an inconsequential 1 percent increase in the education budget shows disparity and confusion in the state budget. The governor continued a budgetary scare campaign with his imaginary structural deficit.
I also have a concern over the absence of any money for the Governor's own food tax initiative.
Along with fully funding our scholarship program and attempting to get more money for education, I plan to work on a couple of different issues in the upcoming session. I will re-introduce legislation I worked on last year that will provide some relief to people who were left behind when the state created the risk pool.
I also plan on working with fellow senators to alleviate some issues in land valuation that have occurred in Turner County in the last year.
On a personal note, I was able to attend the annual South Dakota Retailers banquet this week. Bill Brunick, from Brunick Furniture in Vermillion, was honored as the outgoing president. Bill did a tremendous job for that organization over the last year and I always enjoyed our conversations.
Congratulations, Bill, on a job well done.