March 3, 2017
PIERRE, S.D. – At their weekly press conference yesterday, State Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke and State House Democratic Leader Spence Hawley of Brookings marked the nationwide “Fighting for Families” week of action by highlighting the efforts of Democratic legislators to even the playing field for working families through their “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families.”
“Across the nation, Democratic state legislators are lifting up the importance of working families with a ‘Fighting for Families’ week of action,” Sutton said. “In South Dakota, there is only one more week to go in this year’s Session, and there is a lot to still be decided on campaign finance and ethics reform, on the budget, and other important topics. Democrats believe that whatever issues we face or decisions we make, as state legislators our first responsibility and duty is to stand up for a South Dakota that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful few. That is what we have been fighting for every day in Pierre – and what we will keep fighting for every day we are here.”
Sutton said that Democrats understand that lifting the incomes of working families and providing them with economic security is the best way to grow our economy and create good jobs.
“A thriving middle class isn’t just the result of a strong economy—a strong middle class builds a strong economy, which, in turn, helps to build a strong state budget outlook,” he said.
Sutton said recognition of this basic relationship between working families and a strong economy is why Democrats introduced their “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families” at the beginning of this years’ session. This Agenda was aimed to help level the economic playing field through legislation guaranteeing paid sick and family leave for workers in large corporations, creating a pre-K pilot program and restoring childcare assistance, fully funding the Building South Dakota Program, increased funding for the needs-based scholarship program, and repealing the sales tax on food.
“Democrats understand that we have a moral obligation to support the economic liberty and freedom of the working class in South Dakota,” Hawley said. “Unfortunately, the legislation advancing this agenda were killed in committee on largely party line votes.”
“While our friends across the aisle like to talk about helping working families, their actions and votes in the legislature tell a different story,” said Hawley.
Hawley said that in a Legislative Session in which one of the major topics has been state budget revenues tens of millions of dollars below estimates, Democrats feel it is their duty as legislators to prioritize what is important, and to protect the priorities and investments necessary to maintain and improve the quality of life of everyday South Dakotans.
“Our Opportunity Agenda for Working Families may have been defeated this Session, but we will keep fighting to protect working families and their priorities in our state budget decisions, and will keep pushing this Agenda in future Legislative Sessions,” Hawley said.