Sen. Corey Brown:Legislature may deal with reactions to national events
As we all begin to replace our previous year’s calendars, the next session of the South Dakota legislature is ready to commence.
There have been some changes to this district. Hyde County is now a part of the Pierre district. District 23 has changed its boundaries to include Hand County, Leola and the rest of McPherson County, as well as part of Spink County, which includes Tulare. While change is always difficult, I do believe that these additions and subtractions are generally aligned with the culture and views of the district as a whole. I look forward to working with the new areas in the same way I have done with the existing areas.
In November we concluded a general election with a substantial number of big ballot measures. Few of those passed the scrutiny of the voting public. Certainly it was a step in the right direction for the state to reform the Cement Plant Trust Funds, albeit a complicated issue.
Moreover, I think few would disagree that it is important for the state to enshrine in the Constitution the requirement to balance our budget, even though we have done so for 124 years. With the dynamics in Washington D.C., it is understandable to make sure that our state doesn’t fall into the same dysfunction. As a practical matter, that decision will help to boost our standing with credit rating agencies, which could ultimately save us millions of dollars in interest on our bond payments.
In terms of the state’s budget we start with a much better forecast this year than those of the past.
We have seen projections that indicate most of the state’s major revenue sources are trending toward a positive trajectory. Despite this, the increases are modest (at best). With 2 to 3 percent revenue growth, inflationary increases may be available for many of the state’s major programs. However, it is unlikely we will be able to afford any new major programs or expansions.
I do believe that this next legislative year we need to continue to be conservative with the state’s limited resources. Although we are seeing a positive revenue trend, this is not the time to commit the state to major expansions in ongoing funding.
I would anticipate that this next year we would see many proposals and reactions to some of the recent national events that have occurred. Without knowing the details of those proposals, I would tell you that I think we need to exert some caution to any proposal.
Our state currently has very fair laws towards gun owners. They are not too cumbersome, yet they are effective at limiting those who should not have the right to have a firearm. When we look at the tragedy in Connecticut we have to ask ourselves whether any of the proposed reforms would have eliminated that tragedy. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a proposal that I would believe would have prevented that.
I also believe that our rising prison populations will dominate the discussion in Pierre for the next couple of months. The governor has indicated that this will be a top priority for him and I would expect that this next week some of the proposed reforms will be released.
While we never want to be soft on crime, I do believe that there are potential changes that could be more effective in rehabilitating some of our offenders.
This next year I will serve in a bit of a different role in the Senate. I am the nominee for the majority party to be the next Senate President Pro Tempore. I will talk some more next week about what that means for District 23 and the different duties that it will involve.
Although I try to emphasize it every year, I really do appreciate your feedback. Even if you have never made an effort to contact me before, it is important for you to let me know your views on the various bills being debated in the legislature.
I can be contacted in the following ways: 605-769-0540 (cell phone), corEyWbrown@gmail.com (email… make sure you remember the “e” and the “w”), or 316 S Potter Street, Gettysburg, S.D., 57442 (traditional mail). There is no question that your feedback helps me to make decisions that better represent our district.
SD State Senate