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2013 Legislative Preview

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The 88th session of the South Dakota Legislature begins Tuesday. Politicians on both sides are ready to debate the hot topics, and there seems to be three big issues on their minds.

Paula Hawks is a democratic representative for the Hartford area. She is a newcomer to the South Dakota Legislature, but brings in years of education experience. Hawks says getting more funding for South Dakota schools is personal.  

 “We took the cuts a couple of years ago and the major cut was classroom supply,” said Hawks.
She said the cutbacks schools face make it harder for them to buy basic necessities like classroom supplies. And with the unstable economy, she said that can hurt some families.
“Jobs are low, and pay is low, and we live in a state where those are considerations that need to be taken for the family,” said Hawks.

She also said even though Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed a 3 percent increase for education funding, overall it comes out to much less.
“Really we are getting a .08 percent increase at the base and that’s just not enough,” explained Hawks.

Another thing she would like to see Governor Daugaard take advantage of is the Affordable Care Act.

“It is the law of the land and its not going away, so the sooner we become apart of it and take advantage of the programs available the better,” Hawk said.
Republican representative Christine Erickson disagrees with expanding any type of state program. She said with the federal budget up in the air, legislators need to be cautious with the state’s money.
“There's just so much uncertainty with where we are headed on the federal side,” said Erickson. “And how many dollars will come back to South Dakota and how much we'll then give to other programs.”

But Erickson said one thing the state does need to spend money on, is the prison system.

“We are one of the toughest states on crime, however we aren't any safer than other states that have different laws,” Erickson said.

She said if the reform passes, certain cases could be re-looked at, possibly giving people with minor offenses less time. She said that is vital because South Dakota prisons are filling up.

 “I think it’s going to be within the next 10 years, we are going to need a women's prison, a men's and min prison,” said Erickson.

There is $26.5 million that hasn’t been put towards any particular area for funding. Both Hawks and Erickson said they want some of that money to go towards education.

Lawmakers said they would like to see more teachers stay in South Dakota, rather than leave for neighboring states.

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