Saturday, March 21, 2015

Government Days

Early, this Monday, I had the pleasure of joining the Hetland American Legion and Norgaard Insurance in hosting Government Days. The senior classes of Lake Preston and Arlington were in attendance. During the First session representatives of the federal senators and representative answered questions. During the second session Senator Jim White and Representatives Peggy Gibson and Dick Werner answered more poignant local-focus questions.

Frank will cover the event details with far more alacrity than I - what I will comment upon is the question our seniors asked.

Speeding.  Starting in July, circumstantial speeding of 10mph in order to pass on highways will be allowed and the interstate speed limit will be officially raised to 80mph. Most are excited about this.
How does this affect your pocketbook? The fuel economy on the sticker of your vehicle is usually based upon a travel speed of 55mph. According to every 5mph above that you travel decreases your efficiency by about 7%, in other words adds about 20 cents to the cost of each gallon of gas.
Today’s average gas price is $2.34/gal at 55mph-- at 80mph you are paying the equivalent of $3.28, an increase of nearly $1 per gallon!

Tanning beds. Legislature requiring parental approval of minors to use tanning beds was recently defeated in the capitol. This one seems like a bit of a duh. tells us that people who use tanning beds regularly are 74% more likely to develop skin cancer.  Skin cancer treatment costs between $1,732 and $56,059 per year according to an Archive of Dermatology study which also happens to be the average household income in South Dakota.

Common Core. I have a 3rd grader, I have my issues with common core but I think we can all agree the anything and/or everything is better than [Every] Child Left Behind.
Minimum Wage. There is a lot of controversy about this one. What I will tell you is that decades-upon-decades of study that tell us that minimum wage mandates have almost no effect upon wage base in anything other than the fast food industry. Minimum wage is not and will never be enough to raise a family upon, is not meant to be and shouldn’t be. Most unskilled labor in Arlington pays near or above $10/hour; most actual minimum wage is determined by local labor pools and defiantly not legislation.

If you have a teenager in the Arlington area who needs a job have them put in an application to the City for pool lifeguard – I hear they are desperate and the hourly wage might just be negotiable.

Student Debt. Student debt is a big deal. I get it. I paid for my own college before I contracted with ROTC and once married acquired my wife’s debt. 
Before I took this job I was an ROTC instructor in Oklahoma and spent some time every day helping students with their financial aid issues. I get it.

So I have 7 very quick bits of advice to help the average high-schooler cut the costs of college education. There are various ways to calculate what a college education cost but I will submit the average estimate is $48,000 per diploma.

1.       Pay attention in high school. Many students spend the first semester in remediation. Save $2400.
2.       Take AP classes that offer Dual credit. Save $2400.
3.       Plan for and commit to only 4 years of college instead of the average 5. Save $9,600. You can do it, I did it. I didn’t give anything up, I partied, I studied abroad, completed ROTC, partied some more, changed Majors, graduated, all in 4 years.
4.       Work part time. Do not take student loans to cover beer money. Save a lot.
5.       Apply for every scholarship you can find, even the ones you don’t think you qualify for. Save $2400.
6.       Consider Military Service like ROTC. Save $24,000.
7.       Apply for the Build South Dakota scholarship. All you have to do is stay home and you can save $48,000.

I was very pleased at the intelligence and thoughtfulness that our seniors showed in the scope of the questions they asked. If one of them is your child or grandchild and they want to save some money while attending college share those ideas with them. If they have any questions, send them down to my office. 

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