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Monday, August 24, 2009

Munsterman Wants SD Off Federal Teat... But How?

Just a little empty rhetoric from South Dakota gubernatorial candidate Scott Munsterman:

It’s true that we were able to balance the budget this year during our legislative session, but at what cost? Balancing our budget required an infusion of $71 million of federal stimulus money from the national government. Crawling on our knees when times get bad is not a good sign of a healthy, fiscally responsible state that budgets for the future. South Dakota can take care of South Dakota [Scott Munsterman, "Fiscal Leadership Is a Must," Let's Wake Up South Dakota, 2009.08.21].

Yeah yeah yeah. South Dakota has never taken care of South Dakota. We have consitently taken more money from the federal government than we pay in.

I look forward to Munsterman's putting some meat on the plate: tell us exactly what $71 million worth of programs you plan to cut. I'm sure $71 million in budget cuts will go over splendidly in the Republican primary. And then in November... well, we can only hope candidate Munsterman will give us the chance to test that strategy in the general election.


  1. Steve Sibson8/24/2009 11:44 AM

    How about starting with elimination of the Federal and State Departments of Education, and along with Department of Education at the Universities?

  2. I don't see anything in Scott Munsterman's remarks about cutting $71 million from the state budget.

    However ...

    If we're to balance the books without cutting the budget, we'll have to raise taxes. How? Raise the sales tax to 5 or 6 or 7 percent? Institute a corporate or personal income tax? Increase the gasoline tax to raise $71 million? None of those proposals will go over well in the general election.

    I would like to see one of the candidates offer a concrete proposal, along with some realistic numbers to deal with the budget problems we face now and in the future. Has any of the candidates actually come out with both of these things?

  3. Cory -

    Unless your goal is to snipe at Scott, let me offer a productive alternative.

    If you have a number of questions such as this, why don't you call the campaign at (605)695.3926 and arrange an interview with Scott.

    He's on the road quite a bit, so he's got time to talk.

    I can assure you that Scott is extremely accessible, and as you might guess from his book ( http://www.munstermanforgovernor.com/vision.pdf )he's not afraid to talk about his ideas for making South Dakota a better place.

    The book is about starting a conversation with South Dakota - and you, Sibby, Stan and anyone else are invited to ask questions too.

    If you're not comfortable making the call directly, any of you are welcome to drop me a note at dakotawarcollege@yahoo.com, and I'd be glad to facilitate it.

    Pat Powers
    Munsterman for Governor Campaign

    (a.k.a, pp at the SDWC)

  4. Stan, if Munsterman is serious about his critique of fixing the budget with federal money, then he needs to tell us how he fills the $71M shortfall. He doesn't plan to raise taxes; that leaves either budget cuts or magical economic development.

    PP, it would appear the question is clear: where's that $71M come from? The phone is so 1990's synchronous. I've posted the question the candidate's blog (though I don't usually get answers there... not quite as accessible as I'd hoped). I also have a copy of the Munsterman book, so if the answer (the specific answer, not just promises of economic growth) is in there, I'll find it eventually (though a page-nunmber recommendation will be welcome!).

  5. Cory -

    I'm serious - Call in the morning, and make arrangements to ask.

    The only request is that you add about 3 or 4 other questions, so both your time and his is productive.

    Scott's actually in front of a computer very little (as he's spending his time running for office on a full time basis), so a personal call is the best way to find out.

    If you want to e-mail me your phone number, and let me know you've got more than one questions ready, I'm happy to have him call you.

  6. I've written down that number with a Signo Uniball 207 on a legal pad:

    Scott Munsterman Campaign

    I have no problem with the telephone. I'm a child of the 1970s.

  7. Thanks, Stan! If you get the scoop, I'll be happy to post the responses you get as a guest report.

    PP, I recognize that calling with just one qustion is not terribly productive... and right now, that one question is all I'm focusing on. When I finish my dissertation, I'll probably spend more time coming up with multiple-question interviews. For now, that one question is plenty, and your boss can answer it when convenient.

  8. I called Scott this morning with two questions.

    1. "How do you stand with respect to a state income tax, either personal or corporate?"

    Scott made it clear to me that he is against any type of income tax in South Dakota.

    2. "If the state loses the education funding lawsuit, how will you cope with it?"

    Scott (Or Dr. Munsterman -- he has a Ph.D.) took a lot longer to answer this question than he took to answer my first question. Basically, if I got him right, he believes that we must re-think the entire role of education to appropriately train our young people for the knowledge-based economy of the current century.

    Scott indicated that the funding formula needs to be re-worked, with the education system operating more like a business than it does now. (Scott ran out ahead of my economically naive mind here, so I had better be careful about trying to "put words into his mouth.") He made it clear that education is one of his top priorities, if not "number one."

    At the same time he emphasized that fiscal restraint must be a priority as well; we can't keep running up structural deficits. The insinuation -- one might say the inevitable conclusion -- is that cuts will have to be made to certain programs, or according to some as-yet-undetermined formula. (Cory, I suspect that you would love to spar with Dr. Munsterman on this score. What, exactly, would he cut? I went soft on him here because, God have mercy upon me, I sprouted out of Republican rock.)

    I could not resist inputting that I compare the behavior of certain states (which shall remain unnamed) to the behavior of alcoholics in the throes of their disease, or to a big, hungry beast that, when fed, only gets bigger and hungrier. We both had a good laugh there.

    I didn't press him any further; he said quite a lot of general things that I'm sure were thought out in advance. In particular, I believe that he agrees with me that the Republican Party has gone astray in recent years, and needs to return to its core principles.

    I offered to serve as a live "poster child" for his approach should he ever decide to appear on Dakota Midday (SDPB with Paul Guggenheimer). He encouraged me to go to the court house and re-register as a Republican, so I can vote for him in the primary. (I recently fled the Republican Party and changed my registration to Independent.) I will seriously consider this action, because I think Scott and I are on the same frequency when it comes to the course that South Dakota should follow in the coming years.

    I have to confess that I haven't read very much of his book, although I ordered two copies. I'd encourage everyone who reads this to take a look at Scott's Web site and blog. I forget the URL, but's easy to google.

    Scott gave me the better part of an hour of his time. I felt honored, and at the same time he treated me as an equal. I encourage you all to call his campaign office too. Some of you will doubtless give him a harder time than I did, but I'll bet he can handle any query that comes his way.


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