I cannot believe I am now serving my fourth term in Pierre (I�m sure many others are saying the same thing). Time has really gone by so fast. My little girl, Ellen was only 1 when we first entered the capitol and now she is half way through the first grade. It is a good reminder to appreciate the time you have with friends and family because from what I�m hearing, time only goes by faster as we get older.
The first week of session has already passed. Not really too much happened this week in terms of bills. This is when all the legislators bring their bills forward, try to get sponsors and introduce them. This year I am serving as committee chair of the Health and Human Service Committee. It is this committee that I have been on since beginning out here seven years ago. Hopefully people will be kind to this green horn as I learn the ropes of chairing a committee. The members on my committee are all friendly and supportive (even the Democrats), so hopefully we will have an enjoyable and productive time.
I so far have been able to dodge bringing any bills to session. Several of the complaints that people have had, where able to be resolved by directing those people to the agencies that handle such concerns and the other people�s complaints already had penalties in law that addressed their concerns. Unfortunately, I am hearing that many other legislators are making up for my not bringing bills and trying to take on up to 12-15 bills themselves. I believe they will learn quickly and maybe the hard way that they should take smaller bites when they are just beginning.
The governor provided a good budget address speech. Many people on both sides of the political spectrum appreciated his speech. In that same breath, everyone is cautious regarding what is going to be presented next Wednesday, Jan 19, when his budget is revealed. He has already cut his salary 15 percent, his staffs by 10 percent and because of this, many people are bracing for large cuts in other areas of government. He has stated he will fix the �structural� (ongoing) deficit that the state has been dealing with for some time. Most of the causes of this deficit are related to economic reasons and changes at the federal level which affected banks in South Dakota that deal with credit cards. The 20-30 million dollar decrease in bank franchise taxes did not help our situation.
Time will tell what areas are going to be hit the hardest but I�m not going to be able to say that education will not receive a big part of these cuts. Too many other areas in state government are federally mandated or tied to other restrictions that prevent cuts, thus it puts more pressure on cutting the remaining areas (which includes education). Have to keep our fingers crossed.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me by e-mail: Rep.Boomgarden@state.sd.us or by calling and leaving a message at 773-3851.
Please continue to remember the American troops, the coalition forces and all their families as they perform their duties for our nation.