At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16th, Senator John Thune is hosting a town hall meeting at the Holiday Inn City Centre, downtown Sioux Falls. He wants input on the budget and the debt ceiling.

It is the last in a series of town halls he is holding around the state. As much as I would love to attend, job responsibilities make that impossible.

If I could be there, this is what I would say:

Sen. Thune: I realize the numbers to get the budget under control are staggering. From experience with city budgets, sometimes it makes sense to start small, build on simple agreements, to get to the big task.

Cops Program: If locals have to rely on federal money to hire and maintain a police force, they have their priorities wrong. Local Law Enforcement should be funded LOCALLY. Also eliminate grants for "special enforcement efforts" such as impaired driving. If the locals want special efforts, they should budget for them.

Health Planning Grant: The city of Sioux Falls is getting $157,000 a year from the federal government for some sort of health assessment. Understanding the health situation in our area is important. However, this should be planned, paid for, and implemented by the folks living here.

Trees: At one time there was federal money available for farmers to plant trees on their property. I agree that trees are a good thing. However, if trees are so important to the farmer, and the people in the area, then locals should pay for them. Farmers are supposed to be good stewards of the land. If good stewardship involves planting trees, then by all means, plant them, but don't expect our broke federal government to help.

I realize these are very small items, in a very large budget. However, as we struggle to fund Medicaid and the military, it seems prudent to offer ideas on places to cut which will not tear the country apart.

One more thing, the President is wrong. Raising the debt ceiling should be tied to actual cuts in spending.

Good Luck!

Your friend,
Rick Knobe