GOP Goals for the session
House Majority Leader Larry Rhoden and Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson
unveiled the Republican legislative agenda which includes a number of key initiatives.
“Our plan for this session will address a number of important issues that are at the heart of South Dakotans,” said Knudson. “Our growing economy and state revenues put us in a unique position to improve our education system, provide tax relief for our working families and invest in the future of our state without mortgaging the state’s resources or raiding the trust funds.”
The plan includes:
· The immediate use of the increased tobacco tax revenues to provide at least $45 million in property tax relief over 5 years.
· Direct increased tobacco tax revenues to help enhance state support for K-12 education with at least $45 million over 5 years that would go toward additional state support for elementary and secondary education. This increased support will focus on improved teacher compensation, educational efficiency and opportunity, and measurement of positive results.
· Apply the increase in tobacco tax funds to the growth in the state’s Medicaid and health care programs with $45 million more over five years toward the state’s share of health care costs for the most vulnerable in our state.
· Campaign finance reform.
· Approve a balanced budget for 2008 without depleting state reserve funds.
“We have a strong and balanced agenda for South Dakota,” said Rhoden. “South Dakotans expect their government to provide a high quality education for our children, cut taxes where and when we can and take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. We accomplish this with our 2007 legislative goals and we do this without violating the trust of the voters of this state.”
Governor Rounds offered his support of the proposal saying, “I appreciate the opportunity to work with the legislature on providing additional tax relief and additional, targeted funding for k-12 education. This is a great plan for taxpayers and our children.”
Bill Harlan of the Rapid City Journal covered the press conference that went along with the press release and noted that the Democrats had this to say about it:
Democratic leaders offered guarded praise, saying they favored more money for education. “I applaud them for that,” House Democratic Leader Dale Hargens
of Miller said.
Democratic leaders said they supported the principle of providing more money for education and health care. “I say welcome to the game,” said Senate Democratic Leader Scott Heidepriem.
But Heidepriem said extra money for schools shouldn’t come with too many strings, and he and Hargens said they would watch closely the details of the property-tax relief.
Heidepriem also said Democrats likely would offer their own tobacco-tax plan next week.
Read it all here in the Rapid City Journal