Vermillion Day is a chance to see lawmakers in action By David Lias
Plain Talk If youâ�?�?re curious about how laws are made by South Dakotaâ�?�?s legislators, donâ�?�?t expect a visit to the state Capitol building to answer all of your questions. Thatâ�?�?s likely what a contingent of Vermillion citizens found out Jan. 27 during Vermillion Day in Pierre. The group traveled to the capital early that day, in time to set up tables in the Capitol rotunda with information about Vermillion, itâ�?�?s history, and nearby attractions. The group, which traveled to Pierre by bus, also climbed flights of stairs to eventually reach both the state Senate and state House galleries. Perched in the balconies that surround the two legislative bodies, the Vermillion citizens had an opportunity to witness lawmakers in action. Before leaving for home, the Vermillion group met with Gov. Rounds in a large conference room near his office. Rounds told the group that the coming up with a balanced budget is the most challenging issue that he and legislators must deal with this legislative session. â�?�?This is probably the most difficult economic times that we will see in most of our lifetimes,â�? he said, speaking of not only the economy in South Dakota, but the dire fiscal condition of the entire nation. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve been trying to do our own work in terms of discussing with our economists how serious this is. Weâ�?�?ve used both statewide economists as well as national economists, and weâ�?�?ve gone back to trying to go to a ground zero in terms of what the local business folks are saying about what they are discovering. â�?�?It is nearing a scenario that nobody wants to see,â�? Rounds said. â�?�?We have an economy which has not bottomed out. The news today is 3.9 percent unemployment, which is considerably more than what the projections had been. It means weâ�?�?re continuing to decline in terms of economic activity.â�? The governor said sales taxes and contractor excise taxes have continued to decline, â�?�?in an unprecedented dip.â�? Economists, he added, have predicted that the stateâ�?�?s fiscal condition will likely bottom out and then very slowly recover. â�?�?For us, it means that you plan your activity around recovery and survival,â�? Rounds said. He added that other issues that might normally have been considered this legislative session have been placed aside so that lawmakers can concentrate primarily on the budget. â�?�?They have some very difficult budget decisions to make,â�? he said. â�?�?This year, for the first time since the turn of the century, they have to live within their means.â�?