HURON — Two ballot issues are being decided by voters in the November general election because legislators didn’t do their jobs, a former member of the House now running again said Thursday.
Dale Hargens, a Miller area farmer who has established a residence in Huron so he can be in the District 22 race for a House seat, previously served eight years. He was also House minority leader.
But he has been disappointed in what he has seen happening in Pierre for the last two years, he said at the weekly Beadle County Democratic Party election lunch.
“It seems to be the ‘in’ thing now to just not do anything but yell and throw insults back and forth out there,” Hargens said. “That’s not the way you govern.”
Instead, he said legislators should refer to history and, specifically, the actions of Abraham Lincoln.
“The people that he ran against to be president he put in his cabinet,” Hargens said. “Now that’s how you govern. You bring in both sides together and you do what you can do on common ground. And I think we need more of that in Pierre.”
Hargens drove to Pierre a half dozen times last winter to see firsthand what was going on in the Capitol. People from both sides of the aisle and from several diverse groups encouraged him to consider running again.
He and other Democrats are critical of passage of HB 1234, the controversial education bill that creates annual bonuses for math and science teachers, ends tenure by 2016, provides for merit bonuses for 20 percent of teachers, mandates a uniform evaluation of teachers and principals and establishes a scholarship program for college graduates who commit to teaching in critical need areas.
The provisions should have been separated into different bills, but they were lumped together, he said. The fact that the measure is on next month’s ballot as Referred Law 16 shows people don’t think legislators are doing their jobs, he said.
“It’s probably one of the most detrimental things they’ve done to education in a long, long time,” he said. “And it wasn’t needed.”
“They twisted arms and made deals until they got it passed,” Hargens said of the bill that cleared the Legislature by a single vote. “I think it’s probably going to go down in flames.”
Earlier in the week, Rep. Jim White, R-Huron, a candidate for the state Senate, defended HB 1234, saying legislators had to be realistic as they looked for ways to improve education for school children in South Dakota.
Initiated Measure 15, which would raise the state sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent to raise $180 million annually for Medicaid and education, is on the ballot because those areas haven’t been properly funded, Hargens said.
Medicaid providers such as nursing homes in local communities take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.
“It pains me to see people work for not a lot of money doing a job that’s pretty tough,” he said. “We need to step up to the plate and make sure they get a living wage.”
It’s the same with teachers in South Dakota, he said. Legislators should not have cut education funding, but instead should have tapped reserves.
Hargens said he, Rep. Peggy Gibson and state Senate candidate Chris Studer “care about people and about our district.
“Those issues are why I chose to run. I think we can make a difference,” he said.For the complete article see the 10-05-2012 issue.
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