OUR VIEW: Hisses and cheers
CHEERS to all the weekend graduates from Mitchell Technical Institute and Dakota Wesleyan University. You will be entering a job market sorely in need of your skills and capabilities. The commitment you demonstrated in pursuing associate, bachelor's and master's degrees will serve you well as you step forward to meet challenges in South Dakota and the nation. Congratulations also go to the graduates' families.
HISSES go to the political complications that could derail congressional efforts to approve a new farm bill before winter. The House could take up an ag committee recommendation by mid-May that contains proposals for big changes in the food stamp program. Regardless of the merits of those proposals, they will complicate farm bill passage in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and 60 votes will likely be necessary for approval. Democrats appear poised to fight the food program changes, setting up a showdown. As Sen. John Thune noted during a visit to Mitchell on Thursday, the ag community faces plenty of current worries from low commodity prices, low farm income and looming threats of tariffs. There is a sense of urgency for the timely passage of this farm bill, Thune noted. Hopefully, the spirit of compromise will prevail, ensuring farmers and ranchers receive the support they need.
CHEERS to a promising outlook for Mitchell's summer tourist season. Inquiries to the state from family vacation planners have increased and website traffic to the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau is up. Last year's construction on Burr Street had little effect on tourism numbers, so city officials have few worries related to this year's projects on Burr and Sanborn Boulevard. Tourism is an important element of Mitchell's prosperity.
HISSES to the continuing slow progress made in providing broadband services to rural America. As noted recently by Stephen Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association, while 4 percent of urban America lacks access to fast internet, roughly 40 percent of rural America lacks it. Like it or not, the internet will be an increasing part of business, education and information transfer. Rural Americans, especially the children, cannot afford to be left behind in that revolution.