State Senate candidates spar in debate Thursday

State Senate candidates spar in debate Thursday By: Travis Gulbrandson
Yankton Media, Inc Education funding and economic development were the main issues at District 17â�?�?s state Senate debate Thursday night, Oct. 23 at the Al Neuharth Center on The University of South Dakota campus. Incumbent Sen. Ben Nesselhuf (D) said he has served on the Education Committee and attempted to introduce legislation that would increase spending on schools. â�?�?I do not believe the state has done enough to fund education,â�? he said. Republican challenger Jerad Higman said education and economic development are intertwined. â�?�?One way we can help increase teachersâ�?�? salaries and fund education more, (is) to get more jobs and increase the wealth in this state, increase the tax base so we have more funds to fund education,â�? he said. Nesselhuf said, â�?�?You need to have a good educational system in place to attract the kind of families that then attract jobs, because weâ�?�?ve done everything else, frankly, that we can.â�? An audience member asked if Nesselhuf is a member of the Appropriations Committee, as it is closely related to the university. Nesselhuf said that while he is not a member of the Appropriations Committee, he is a member of the Education Committee and the State Affairs Committee. He said time was a major factor in this decision. â�?�?The reason that Iâ�?�?m not a member of Appropriations is basically, you can do appropriations, or you can do everything else,â�? he said. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve taken the route of doing everything else.â�? Higman said, â�?�?I think we need someone on Appropriations, because thatâ�?�?s one of the most powerful committees we have, especially in a university town â�?¦ If we have a sitting senator in that district that has a university there, I think we should have a say in how a lot of those funds are appropriated.â�? When Nesselhuf said sitting on the Appropriations Committee would make it difficult for Higman to devote his time to economic development, Higman responded, â�?�?The session is 35 or 45 days. What are you going to do the other 10 months out of the year?â�? The candidates were also questioned about Measure 11, which would limit when an abortion could take place. Higman said, â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve got two beautiful little girls, and I couldnâ�?�?t imagine being anything but pro-life.â�? Nesselhuf said abortion should be a decision left up to â�?�?a woman, her doctor, her partner and her god.â�? He added that it makes no difference whether candidates are pro-choice or pro-life, as the issue has been up for discussion the past four years in session. He said, â�?�?The fact of the matter is, we have folks that are trying to challenge Roe v. Wade and use our state to be the guinea pig to do that. They want us to foot the bill for it â�?¦ and thatâ�?�?s what thatâ�?�?s about.â�?

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