South Dakotans Applaud Legislature’s Trip To Washington
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Sending the entire Legislature to the nation’s capital to plead the cause of farmers was worth the money, many South Dakotans said Wednesday - even if one of the powers that be didn’t seem to know where they were coming from.
It cost an estimated $95,000 to send Gov. Bill Janklow and all but two of the 105 legislators to Washington Tuesday.
Even Lt. Gov. Lowell Hansen was aboard. Secretary of State Alice Kundert was left behind in the state capital of Pierre to mind the store.
Among the Washington people the legislators called on was House Speaker Thomas P. ″Tip″ O’Neill.
″I remember we stopped at Sioux Falls,″ the Massachusetts congressman said, recalling a visit to South Dakota in the early 1970s. ″Is that in Iowa? No, that’s Sioux City.″
Unorthodox it may have been, but the trip drew raves from some of the folks back home.
″I think it did some good,″ Jeff Cronk, a Sioux Falls firefighter, said Wednesday as he worked out at the YMCA. ″It looks like they got in to see the right people.″
The Legislature committed up to $95,000 from the state treasury for the trip, although a private fund-raising drive raised about $30,000 to pay for part of the expenses.
Tim Schryver, president of a Sioux Falls company that works with trucking firms, said he would like to ″pat them on the back.
″In a sense, I’m excited about the activities of our Legislature and their willingness to put in the effort and time to try to gain some benefits in the situation that I think is desperate in South Dakota.″
But Oscar Tipler, a Sioux Falls building contractor, said he was not sure if the federal government should continue ″giveaway programs″ for agriculture and other sectors of the economy.
Cronk and several others said the unorthodox trip was the key to focusing the attention of the federal government and the national media on the farm problem. No one would have paid any attention if the whole Legislature hadn’t gone, Cronk said.
Dale Brehe, who farms 36 miles north of Pierre, said he hopes the trip was worthwhile.
Brehe, who made between $20,000 and $30,000 farming last year, said relief programs should be targeted to farmers who are in trouble because of factors they can’t control.
A recent survey of bankers conducted by South Dakota State University showed that 75 percent of the state’s farmers are in good financial shape.
Editorial opinion was mixed. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader said the trip ″wasn’t a good idea, but let’s make the most of it.″
The legislators split into two for the trip, with the bulk of legislators, about 90, traveling aboard a chartered jet. The rest joined Janklow on a National Guard plane to Minneapolis with a transfer there to a commercial flight, officials said.
The legislators and Janklow met with O’Neill and other House leaders, several Senate leaders, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, Agriculture Secretary John Block and other officials.
They said farmers need short-term credit relief and long-term changes in farm policy.
Although a small delegation talked with Vice President George Bush, a meeting couldn’t be arranged with President Reagan because of his full schedule, White House officials said.