South Dakota Legislature Failing Local Citizens, Governments
From observing this legislative session it is clear, South Dakota legislators are failing us.
They vote to limit, prohibit, ban, negate, and control local government. The governments which can help South Dakota not just survive, but thrive. Legislators first job should be to help local government succeed. Obviously they don't understand that job.
South Dakota brags about our positive business climate, few regulations, inexpensive land, and low taxes. If a number of businesses were struggling to survive, our legislature would be falling over each other to create the perfect bill to fix the problem. Take a look at all the ideas and legislative proposals to deal with "Workforce Development."
On the other side is the reality that many South Dakota towns, counties, and school districts are struggling to meet basic needs. Therefore making them not very attractive to companies who want to stay, expand, or move here. These days savvy employers are looking not just at the bottom line, but at the well being of their workers, both on and off the job.
Only a few bills were introduced and none passed to solve the problem of struggling towns, the teacher shortage and pay, and assistance to counties to deal with alcohol/drug and mental health issues, and the law enforcement and associated legal costs.
Based on published statements from legislators like Representatives Mark Mickelson, Don Haggar, and Alex Jensen, the lack of comprehension is pervasive and frightening.
Representative Don Haggar mocked local elected officials, saying on the House floor, "Those County Officials are going to find ways to spend the money. Their appetites will rise to the level of the 'candy' available. That's what will happen."
In a letter to the local paper Sunday, Rep. Alex Jensen wrote, in essence, local governments and their citizens aren't smart enough to decide what is best for them when it comes to taxes. Only legislators possess that wisdom.
Rep. Mark Mickelson publicly stated his difficulty "setting priorities and making tough choices" affecting local governments and the citizens he is elected to help.
To those of us who have served or are currently working to maintain and build better communities, these statements would be funny if they weren't so frustrating.
Local elected officials make tough choices each day. They are not spendthrifts. If they do get carried away with local tax money, they can be recalled. Something the 105 minds in Pierre don't provide for themselves.
There appears to be a dominant feeling from state government, both elected and appointed officials, that local governments should pull themselves up by their boot straps. Yet state government doesn't permit those governments to buy boot straps, much less boots. Local governments need options not controls.
To be clear, I don't agree with all the decisions made by my local elected officials, but I do agree with them more often than I do with those in State Government who are removed from the real world of providing essential services to real people.