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Legislators Asked to Be Aware of All The People They Represent

January 17, 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - As Gov. Dennis Daugaard prepares to present his budget proposal to the Legislature this week, South Dakota lawmakers are being asked to remember those who don't have a loud voice in Pierre.

Daugaard is to deliver his blueprint on Wednesday, which likely will call for major cuts to many programs to help fill a nearly $100 million budget gap. Gene Miller, executive director of the Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota, says he is anxious about what will result.

"Well, the biggest thing that we in the Association always have a concern about would be the young children. They need to get off to a good start, so we are hoping that the programs that work with young children to make sure they get sufficient education, sufficient food, just a good start in life, we're hoping that those programs will stay in place."

Legislators will also be under pressure to tighten the rules and eligibility for so-called "entitlement" programs such as food stamps, unemployment and Medicaid. Miller says representatives should look at who is being served by those types of programs.

"You know, our concern is need versus entitlement. ... We know that some people need these programs, and without them they would be in dire straits, and so we hope that those programs will stay in place as well."

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD