We may have avoided going over the fiscal cliff, but South Dakota lawmakers say Americans are not off a ledge yet.
United States Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune and Representative Kristi Noem all voted for a deal to avoid major tax increases and government spending cuts.
"We end up at the eleventh hour trying to cobble together some deal that people don't have much input into and are forced to vote for one way or the other and that's not the way to do these types of things," Thune said.
"Our job was to do damage control and protect as many people as we could in this country," Noem said.
The bill would boost the top 35 percent income tax rate to 39.6 percent for individuals who make more than $400,000 per year and for couples that make more than $450,000 per year. Thune and Noem said this means the agreement shields 99 percent of Americans and 99 percent of South Dakotas from tax hikes.
"We need to continue to make sure we stop picking winners and losers through our tax code and that we go forward and really deal with what the issue is," Noem said.
Noem and Thune said out of control government spending and the tax code are big problems in America and they say lawmakers need to tackle these situations sooner rather than later.
There are similar feelings on the other side of the aisle. In a statement to KELOLAND News, Johnson said:
The good news for South Dakotans is that 99% of tax payers will not have their rates go up permanently. The wealthiest among us will help contribute to solving the deficit problems. Especially important for South Dakota is the wind energy production tax credit has been extended for 5 years providing much needed certainty for wind turbine manufacturers and wind farm investors.
As for the future, Thune hopes lawmakers learn from the turbulent past few months.
"We need to do things in regular order. We wouldn't be here today had we done a budget earlier this year," Thune said.