Home > SD 2014 Ballot, South Dakota > A chat with District 3 State Senator Al Novstrup

A chat with District 3 State Senator Al Novstrup

September 10, 2014
SD District 3 State Senator Al Novstrup at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema.

SD District 3 State Senator Al Novstrup at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema.

On August 25th I had a cup of coffee with District 3 State Senator Al Novstrup at the Red Rooster Coffee House in downtown Aberdeen. Novstrup is running for District 3 House alongside incumbent Republican Representative Dan Kaiser and challenging Democrats  Pate Hale and Burt Elliott. The other incumbent, State Representative David Novstrup, is term-limited in the House and is running for State Senate this year. The District 3 race became very interesting when Burt Elliott decided to run for a House seat. At this point it is hard to predict who between Novstrup/Kaiser/Elliott will fail to receive enough votes for the two House seats.

Usually in these chats I ask candidates what their top priorities are if they become elected. Novstrup came ready for me to ask about his top priority and said his approach to legislating simply doesn’t allow for a top priority. Instead Novstrup noted that as a legislator he has to vote anywhere from five hundred to a thousand times per session (counting committee votes). Because of that he has to keep a balanced approach and realize that choosing a single top priority would prevent him from keeping an open mind. In the past I’ve called out such talk from politicians as them trying to hide their stances, so they can’t be attacked. With Novstrup I don’t get that feeling. I’ve spoken with Novstrup enough times to realize that he has taken stances on issues, but those stances don’t seem to interfere with his ability to legislate in a balanced fashion.

I asked Novstrup about money for public education. He said the only way to get money for education is to take money from elsewhere. Novstrup asked what other areas would lose money in order for education to receive more funding. Novstrup noted that not only does the legislature have to find money for education, they have to determine how much will be available for K-12, Technical Schools, and Colleges.

Talking with Novstrup it is quite obvious he has spent the last few years working on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Novstrup brought up many other areas that are in dire need of funds, such as transportation. He noted that everyone believes in having good roads. But at the same time he noted most people believe in letting taxpayers keep most of their own money. In such an environment it means increased spending in one area must be taken from another area. That is another ongoing theme when I’ve spoken to Novstrup over the last year. Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about people being in support of a particular issue, but then not thinking about where to get the money to fund it. Perhaps Novstrup has a point there.

Continuing on infrastructure, Novstrup said that civilized societies rely upon basic services such as roads. Further, he stated road maintenance will pay for itself by requiring less rebuilding. When I asked him about new taxes to go towards infrastructure Novstrup said he is not opposed to the possibility. Novstrup made sure to say he is not a big government type, but that gas and wheel taxes are good directions to look at because they are essentially user fees. If the legislature approves any tax increases (or user fee increases) for infrastructure I don’t think there will be too much push-back from constituents. That is provided all of the money goes towards road maintenance and keeping South Dakota’s infrastructure in top condition. There will likely be some people (such as myself) that would prefer the legislature take money from other areas of the state budget, but overall I don’t think committing new tax dollars to infrastructure will hurt conservative politicians such as Novstrup.

There are a few other topics I spoke with Novstrup at length about. I will be using those parts of our chat for future planned posts. First Novstrup did mention that if he could appropriate more money for a cause it would be for ASPIRE. Al and David Novstrup have mentioned this program many times. After November 4 I will do a post about ASPIRE, it actually seems to be a good program. Another matter I spoke with Novstrup about was agricultural land and property taxes. This is an issue I’ve been speaking with a number of legislators about and hope to do a post on soon. Finally I plan to do a post about the Indian Supreme Court outside of Ft Pierre. Novstrup gave me some back-story I had not heard before. It contradicts what I’ve heard from some tribal leaders. There have also been contradictory media stories about the issue. I plan to look more into this and see if I can get some blog posts out about it.

Overall I would say I had a good chat with Al Novstrup. It will be interesting to see who the voters of District 3 choose this fall for the two State Representative position. Rep Kaiser is the only true incumbent in the race; but at the same time both Al Novstrup and Burt Elliott have an incumbent-like status due to their local name recognition. It should be a fun night to watch this race Nov 4!

  1. October 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm

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  1. September 11, 2014 at 11:44 am
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