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Taxes And Farm Bill Highlight Town Hall

January 9, 2013, 5:00 PM by Peggy Moyer

Taxes And Farm Bill Highlight Town Hall

99 percent of South Dakotan’s taxes will not go up. U.S. Senator John Thune is traveling the state explaining what it means now that the country didn’t go over the fiscal cliff.

Thune's first stop Wednesday was a town hall meeting in Madison.

"They were predicting a recession would have hit us in the first half of this year," Thune said.

Thune also says he and the other members of Congress have a lot of work ahead of them if they are going to agree on how to decrease the nation's debt.

"We've got to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Give the state more flexibility when it comes to Medicaid, for example, to design their own programs to meet the needs that their state has," Thune said.

While Senator Thune used the town hall meeting at DSU to address changes Congress made to tax policy, some South Dakotans in the room were more concerned with what Congress didn't address and that's the farm bill.

"Are we going to get a farm bill in place before the end of the year?" an audience member asked.

"Farm bills are hard because fewer and fewer people are invested in agriculture. You know there are fewer people out there in the heartland. If you look at the east and west coast, they don't have much of an interest in passing a farm bill," Thune said.

Glen Lee has farmed for more than 50 years and says this isn't the first time Congress has drug its feet. He'd like to see more collaboration in Washington.

"I think it’s overdue right now. Something should have been done already and it seems, going clear back, it’s always a drag in getting these things done, these expansions and stuff like that. But we need a farm bill," Lee said.

Thune hopes Congress will work together to pass one before the eight-month extension runs out.

Thune says such a politically divided Congress will present a challenge moving forward, but he also pointed out that the country has taken some of its biggest steps forward in history during times like these.

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