Americans Discuss Social Security in South Dakota
A Project Sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts
Phone/ Fax: ( 605) 348- 7590
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Kitty Kinsman 605/ 348- 7590
September 10, 1998 Bill Brannigan 202/ 955/ 9000
SOUTH DAKOTA CHOSEN TO HOST CITIZEN FORUM ON SOCIAL SECURITY
Live Teleconference to Link Northern Plains Cities and Washington
Rapid City, SD – South Dakota has been selected as one of 5 states in the Northern Plains region to host a citizen forum on the future of Social Security. On Saturday, October 10, 1998, approximately 600 citizens from South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana will exchange views about the future of Social Security and address their concerns to policymakers in Washington. The event, sponsored by Americans Discuss Social Security ( ADSS), will provide South Dakotans with a unique opportunity to participate in the national dialogue on Social Security and play a role in shaping the debate about its future.
In South Dakota, participants will gather in Rapid City at the Surbeck Student Center on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. The forum will run from 8: 30 am - 3: 30 pm ( MDT). Lunch and childcare will be provided. Participation is free and open to the public. Citizens of all ages and incomes are encouraged to attend. Participants must register in advance by calling ( toll- free) 1- 888- 470- ADSS ( 2377).
Live, two- way television will connect participants across the five states with Washington, DC from 12: 30 pm - 3: 30 pm ( MDT). Nationwide, the event will be broadcast on cable and community access stations, as well as the Internet ( www. americansdiscuss. org). Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a substantive, interactive dialogue about Social Security. Experts will describe the current operations of the Social Security program and the various reform options that have been proposed to date. Every participant will have an opportunity to register their individual preferences on electronic keypads and share their ideas with neighbors, local officials, and members of Congress. Viewers at one- way downlink sites and those following the discussions on cable television will be able to register their comments over a toll- free line.
Social Security is of special importance to South Dakotans. In South Dakota, over 134,000 individuals received Social Security benefits during 1997, for a total of $ 86 million in benefits. Beneficiaries included retired workers and their dependents or surviving spouses, as well as disabled workers and their dependents. The average monthly benefit was $ 637. Fifty- eight percent of Social Security beneficiaries are women. Social Security is a major source of income ( 50% or more) for two- thirds of all beneficiaries. South Dakota workers paid about $ 770 million in Social Security taxes during 1994.
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This citizen forum comes at a time when national interest in Social Security reform is intensifying. Social Security has emerged as a key issue in this year’s election campaigns and the recent stock market shifts have focused attention on options for privatization. A White House Conference on Social Security is scheduled for December.
“ Most Americans know that Social Security faces a profound challenge in the next 30 years,” says Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of ADSS. “ But in an age of sound- bite politics, it is understandable that some people are confused about the specifics. This forum is designed to focus on facts, not bumper- sticker slogans, and to bring citizens into this crucial dialogue.” ADSS is a project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. ADSS does not take a position on the issue and it never will. The mission of Americans Discuss Social Security is to give citizens, whatever their views, an opportunity to actively participate in the future of the Social Security program. To date, ADSS has sponsored citizen engagement projects involving more than 3,000 persons in 15 states across the country.
Over 25 state and local organizations are co- sponsoring the forum and helping to recruit participants in order to ensure a representative mix of citizens of all ages and incomes in the roundtable discussions. Some of their efforts include publicizing the event in newsletters, hosting informational discussions, and sending personal invitations to clients and members.
A public information session to learn more about the October 10th event is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15, at 7: 00 pm at the Surbeck Student Center in the Bump Lounge on the South Dakota School of Mines campus in Rapid City. For more information, contact the K Group at 605/ 348- 7590.
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