1. What qualifications do you possess to be a state lawmaker?
Stricherz: In 1992 I joined the Army, was deployed to Kuwait and was awarded the Army Achievement Medal for my work to generate new computer based files that would assist 24th FSB Company in easily locating and identifying each work order, their status and the parts ordered. After the Army I worked several years in Retail Management. In 2003 I felt I needed a change of employment and began attending the University of Sioux Falls working on my BA in Social Work. This decision came as a result of my time as a CASA Volunteer as well as a Foster Parent. My junior year I had to drop out to care for my husband, who was injured during his deployment to Iraq. The last two years I have been running a nonprofit organization that provides emergency services to the troops and the families they leave behind during deployments. This is where my heart is. Speaking on behalf of our military hero’s and their families. This position has allowed me to gain experience advocating on behalf of families, fundraising, speaking publicly, organizing, training new volunteers, working with the media, and so much more. Locating the best service providers for home repairs, appliance repairs and vehicle repairs has given me additional speaking experience. The overall day to day functions of running a business has given me additional experience in balancing budgets, applying for grants and approaching donors for financial assistance and in-kind goods.
2. Roads have become an issue this year because of extensive flooding causing a lot of damage, forcing some counties to seek opt-outs or wheel taxes. What action do you think the state Legislature should take to assist counties and municipalities with funding? What proposal would you introduce?
Stricherz: Roads are an important part of our infrastructure that allows for the organizational structures needed for the operation of society. Allowing for the funding needed for regular maintenance is a necessity, allocating funding for emergency repairs is a must needed priority. In balancing the state budget, funds must be set aside for times such as these that counties and municipalities are currently experiencing. Cutting back on unnecessary spending, cutting failed and unsuccessful programs will give some additional funding for infrastructure. In today’s society we can not afford wasteful spending in our personal lives, expecting this same standard for our government should not be any less required.
CAH: I am heartened to hear a Republican who remembers that we do need government spending to maintain the basic "operation of society." However, the standard line about cutting wasteful spending represents wishful thinking, not hard fiscal analysis and decision-making. We face a 100-million-dollar state budget shortfall. I do not believe the state of South Dakota is currently wasting 100 million dollars. There's a strong argument to be made (especially by the counties trying to pass opt-outs and wheel taxes) that we need to spend more to fix our flood-ravaged roads and failing bridges. Candidates need to tell us exactly which $100-million-plus worth of programs they plan to cut to cover the deficit and the increasing road repair bill... or they need to be honest as the counties are and say, "You know what? We need to pay our own way with tax increases."
3. Do you think education is under funded in the state? If so, please explain how you would increase funding and where the money would come from? If not, please explain why you think that way.
Stricherz: Education is the foundation of our economic development, and the future of South Dakota’s economy depends upon creating highly-educated young South Dakotans. Currently, education takes 31% of the states budget, we need to work on increasing that number to no less than 36%. South Dakota schools perform at a high level and produce high quality students, in order to maintain this standard we must view education as an investment and not an expense. Therefore, it is important to the future of our schools to provide for a yearly increase in the funding that is available, one possible solution would be to lower property taxes and equalized the funds available to schools for operations. Another option would be to find alternate solutions to the schools laptop program. The 2.9 million dollars it takes to fund this program could instead be used to boost general state aid to schools.
CAH: For a moment there, Stricherz sounds like my man for governor Scott Heidepriem, who recognizes the state is failing to shoulder its share of the burden for funding education. But then Stricherz drops back to cutting taxes, which returns right back to the problem of the state doing less and expecting locals to do more. Even the reallocation of laptops may cause the same problem: the state may withdraw its tech support (the state dropped expansion of the classroom laptop program last year), but local schools will have to pick up the tab... and making each local school do its own tech support may only increase costs. Still open for debate: whether those school-supplied laptops are essential for education in the first place....
4. Gov. Mike Rounds has asked that state agencies and departments prepare a 2012 budget that should include a 10 percent decrease. Do you support or oppose a budget decrease? If not, please explain why you think that way.
Stricherz: I agree with Governor Rounds proposal that state agencies and departments decrease their budget by no less than 10%. As I stated above, we should expect no less from our government than to live by the same standards as that of our states citizens.
CAH: Ah, there's a step toward closing the $100 million shortfall. But does that include Board of Regents? Department of Transportation? Highway Patrol and Corrections? Again, I don't believe there's $100 million in waste, so I want to hear the good programs the governor and our legislators want us to do without.
5. Other than education and road issues, what legislation do you plan to introduce next year if elected or re-elected?
6. What issues are occurring within your district that will prompt you to propose legislation to address them?
Stricherz: 5./6. Answered together: I oppose increases in sales and use taxes without significant cuts in current government spending, as well as oppose increases in property tax. During this time of recession it is irresponsible for our government to increase taxes adding burden to our struggling South Dakota families. We, instead should be focused to finding sensible solutions to the creation of jobs that would allow our South Dakota families to take care of themselves.
During the 2010 session, the state Legislature considered the “South Dakota Health Care Freedom Act” ( SB 137 ), as we learn more and more what this extensive bill contains, I believe it is as important, more than ever, to reintroduce this bill to protect our citizens from the mandated and regulated laws coming out of Washington, DC.
The security of South Dakota families is important, instead of cutting funding to our Police, Sheriff and Highway Patrol Dept.’s it is more responsible to increase funding. Without a strong security system, we are placing our citizen’s in undue harms way.
CAH: Dang—Stricherz is preaching Gordon Howie's nullification again. Can we just accept the health care law and work to improve it? Can Republicans just accept defeat and look for real solutions? I guess not.
And evidently Stricherz wants to exempt law enforcement from the governor's proposed 10% cuts. It's hard to argue with funding public safety... but again, there lies the challenge we face in squaring Republican tough talk on budgets with Republican tough talk on law and order. Government is not all waste: in South Dakota, government is mostly things we like and need. If our candidates spent less time railing about how bad and wasteful government is and instead focused on how necessary police, roads, and education are for our well-being, we might have an easier time convincing taxpayers to support the funding necessary to keep society running.
I still plan to vote for Mitch and Gerry here in District 8. Stricherz won't get my vote, not because she's Patty Stricherz, but because she sounds too much like Russ Olson and every other Republican. The South Dakota GOP says things we like to hear about cracking down on waste, supporting education and police, and not raising taxes. But they never offer a consistent and straightforward explanation of the fiscal realities of turning our fiscal wishes into workable policy.