Sen. Tom Hansen, R-Huron, answers a question at Saturday’s state Senate election forum. Shown with him are moderator Mike Held, center, and Democratic candidate Perry Danforth of Huron. PHOTO BY ROGER LARSEN/PLAINSMAN
Incumbent Sen. Tom Hansen, R-Huron, says his experience is important because many Senate colleagues aren’t returning to Pierre next year.
His challenger, Democrat Perry Danforth of Huron, says it’s not healthy – on the state or federal level – when there is one-party rule. He thinks Republicans have been in power so long in South Dakota they have stopped listening to Democrats.
The candidates appeared at Saturday’s election forum in Huron, a month before the Nov. 2 general election.
Danforth said he is convinced the state does not deserve a $100 million budget deficit and that the situation could have been handled differently. But across-the-board cuts are not the way to go because some good programs would eventually be eliminated or rendered ineffective eventually, he said.
He believes lawmakers can make appropriate cuts without raising property taxes. However, the fat is not in K-12 education, he said.
Budgets have been passed the last couple years that have been aggressive and based on expected revenues. He believes things have happened recently to reduce the $100 million deficit.
The candidates were asked a question on out-of-state activists who want to destroy animal agriculture by changing laws.
Agriculture is a $21 billion industry in South Dakota and it’s inappropriate for the animal rights organizations to want to change laws on how animals are cared for, Hansen said.
“We have to continue to be on our guard,” he said.
Danforth suggests there should be an increase in the penalty for animal cruelty. He thinks people should stick up for ag producers.
“We have to protect those agriculture producers at all costs,” he said.
Education must not be part of the starting point discussion of cuts, Danforth said. Children are an investment and not an expense.
“Cutting education is not acceptable in my mind,” he said.
The spending plan has to be in line with available revenues, Hansen said.
Both candidates oppose the ballot issue regarding legalizing medical marijuana. Even if the state approved it, there still is a federal law against it.
Another big problem is the growing number of people addicted to prescription drugs, Danforth said.
The medical and law enforcement communities oppose medical marijuana and there are extensive pain prescriptions available, Hansen said.
South Dakota has attracted businesses and industries with tax breaks and other incentives, but when they leave the negative factors like crime remain, Danforth said.
The state can draw companies from the outside because of its favorable tax system and access to affordable energy, Hansen said. As companies struggle to survive in highly taxed locations, South Dakota looks extremely attractive, he said.For the complete article see the 10-03-2010 issue.
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