OK, OK. Maybe it sounds a little like the Midwestern-polite version of Si, se puede, but there’s something in Independent Democrat Scott Heidepriem’s message, delivered last night during a dinner and social event at Vermillion’s Buffalo Run Winery.
Heidepriem has lived on both sides of the aisle–he’s no tax-and-spend, take-your-guns-away liberal. He’s a guy who has seen firsthand the out-of-control spending and out-of-whack priorities of the Republican administration in this state, and decided the other side–even though it has been the out-of-power side for the better part of four decades, was a better bet.
But even on the Democratic side of the aisle, Heidepriem has worked to build coalitions and to bring good budgets and good sense to South Dakota’s state government.
His message last night was about cooperative government instead of legislature-vs.-executive squabbling that brings us such questionable benefits as cobbled-together, last-minute budgets in a time where we really need to be thinking long and hard about every last dollar.
Heidepriem’s pledge as governor is to work with the (pretty much always Republican-dominated) legislature for the good of South Dakota and its people, even if it means making some compromises on his own agenda.
But what he’s not willing to compromise on are the things that have cost our state millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue–the no-bid contracts and corporate give-aways that send millions of our people’s dollars to companies that haven’t even asked for incentives (like TransCanada) while stripping funding from priorities like education.
And we’re seeing the results of the current administration’s ramming through of an education-stripping budget already–at the end of last week I received notice from my institution that online class sizes are going up and the number of students that must be enrolled for a class to run is going up, too.
Thanks, Governor Rounds and Lt. Governor Daugaard for helping to shorten the amount of time I have to spend preparing each student for the rigors of college writing, for making it less likely that I will have enough classes to teach in order to keep my and my son’s health insurance, and for making it harder for students to find a class to get into.
Is this the kind of “fiscal conservatism” we can expect from a Daugaard administration as well?
This state has long paid lip service to keeping our kids in the state and to attracting young people and families to our lovely hills and prairies. But without adequate funding for education at both the primary and secondary levels, what’s to attract or keep them here? Or if they stay, what opportunities will they have?
I came to USD is 1993 as a transfer student because (among other reasons) the value of the education here was competitive with any school in the nation. I walked away from a full ride at Boston University to make my home here. Would I do the same today? It’s not nearly as likely.
And that last $11 million payment to TransCanada isn’t being spent on creating jobs and opportunities for South Dakotans. It’s a “thanks for recognizing us as the shortest route between North Dakota and Nebraska” payoff. A complete waste of taxpayer dollars.
Heidepriem talks about investing in human capital–in training and teaching and investing in our people–something South Dakota has lagged behind in for decades.
Instead of the current administration’s investment in their own swollen size–adding a new government post every 48 hours–shouldn’t we be investing in small business and education and the things that make our state stronger and healthier, instead of bloated at the top and starving at the bottom?
Maybe the Republicans in this state have forgotten what it means to be conservative–and I don’t mean frittering around with social issues to get voters riled up while losing all good economic sense. Maybe thirty-six years is too long to have a completely one-sided state government.
Maybe it’s time to see what an Independent Democrat can do.