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Optimism On Docket For 2012 Session

January 2, 2012, 5:59 PM by David Brown

Optimism On Docket For 2012 Session
SIOUX FALLS, SD - With the 2012 South Dakota Legislative session just over a week away, both sides of the aisle are feeling more comfortable about this year's prospects. There are still plenty of challenges for representatives to tackle, but it's nothing compared to last year's budget battle.

The sun is shining on a new year at the state capitol with the economy looking bright.

"I sure feel a whole lot better this year in the sense of what we budgeted and the revenues that have come in is considerably more than what we anticipated," Republican Representative Manny Steele said.

Steele admits, even though he shares the same party lines as Governor Dennis Daugaard, the start of the 2011 session had a different vibe.

"It was two things really," Steele said. "Having a new governor and not knowing what his responses would be to different things. And the shortfall of $127 million. That was tough."

"I think our economy has come back stronger," Democratic Representative Susy Blake said. "It was coming back stronger even as we left last session. And it has turned out to be that way and continued to be that way." 

Blake admits things are better compared to this time a year ago, but that the state still isn't where it needs to be.

"I think last year was pretty devastating to our health care field and to our education," Blake said.

"It's a big relief compared to last year because I know it was going to be a tough year and we were going to have to disappoint a lot of people," Steele said.

The focus this year will be much different, according to both Blake and Steele. And they're both confident each side can work with the other because the mood going in will be better.

"It'll be debating what are we going to do with the funds instead of debating who are we going to cut," Steele said. "And I think it'll go much better this year."

"I do think so," Blake said. "I don't know; maybe that's the curse of the Democrat.  That we're always hoping for the best and we always take the positive road and hope that we can make the best of whatever situation. But I do feel like we need legislation that is inclusive to everyone."

The 2012 session starts January 10.

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