With over 40 District 16 Democrats in attendance, Ann Tornberg's (of rural Beresford) house party was a success. As a retired teacher and debate coach, Ann is the perfect person to explain the Democratic vision for fixing our state's broken education system. This week, Governor Daugaard introduced yet another disappointing budget plan for South Dakota. While he made his plan sound generous to the school system, Ann pointed out the perspective needed. The increase in per pupil spending would amount to only $35 when last year the funding was cut by $319 per pupil. Essentially the governor has taken 319 steps backward and only 35 steps forward.
Other local leaders were on hand to speak and take questions. We heard from congressional candidate Matt Varilek, former gubernatorial candidate Scott Heidepriem, the Communication Director of the South Dakota Democratic Party Marley Prunty-Lara and the Chairman of the Lincoln County Democratic Party Ryan Casey. Each provided information on local issues including the need to organize.
The night was rounded out with a presentation from OFA-South Dakota State Director Ned Horsted. He talked about the important policy changes the President has put into place or would like to make and their personal effects on people here in South Dakota. President Obama's American Jobs Act would grant South Dakota over $77 Million to support 1,600 educator and first responder jobs. According to the South Dakota State Legislature's website, this past year, South Dakota lost over 1400 jobs in education. The American Jobs Act would go a long way in restoring those jobs and ensuring that South Dakota's children have the top notch education they each deserve. He also explained to our enthusiastic group all of the training and organizing resources that OFA has to offer. It is clear that we have a lot of work ahead of us if we want a victory in 2012, but it is also clear that we have a large group of energetic Democrats ready to do that work. District 16 is in!