South Dakota's congressional delegates are reacting to the US Postal Service's move to drop Saturday mail delivery.
Wednesday, the US Postal Service announced it is dropping Saturday mail delivery. USPS has pushed for eliminating mail and package delivery on Saturdays for the past few years. However, recent data showing growth in package delivery, which is up by 14 percent since 2010, and projection of continued package delivery growth in the coming decade made them revise their decision to continue package delivery only.
The plan doesn't take effect until August and is expected to save the postal service $2 billion.
Senator John Thune said he understands reforms were needed to ensure the viability of the USPS, but he said he also understands how changes to six-day delivery will impact families and businesses across South Dakota.
"I will continue to pay close attention to this matter and remain hopeful that Congress will enact smart reforms to the USPS that make the agency more competitive and sustainable long-term," Thune told KSFY News in an email.
Republican Representative Kristi Noem and Democrat Senator Tim Johnson flat-out said they disapprove of dropping Saturday delivery.
Rep. Noem stated the USPS should focus on making additional internal structural reforms before it cuts services. Noem said serious changes need to take place to make the USPS financially viable.
"Coming from such a rural state, our postal service is critical to the way families and businesses operate. Before the Postal Service makes decisions that affect South Dakotans and the rest of rural America, I believe the USPS should review all available options in order to establish an efficient and sustainable delivery system," Noem said in a statement to KSFY News.
Johnson said dropping Saturday delivery should be a last resort option. Johnson said he is hopeful that Congress could save the USPS from dropping Saturday mail, because the policy doesn't take effect until August.
"This is a top priority for me, and I will continue working to preserve the universal service mandate that ensures those in South Dakota and other rural areas continue having access to quality and affordable mail service," Johnson said in news release.
The USPS announced in May it was cutting back on the number of operating hours instead of shuttering 3,700 rural post offices. The move, which reduced hours of operation at 13,000 rural post offices from an eight-hour day to between two and six hours a day, was made with the aim of saving about $500 million per year.
The cutback in hours last year resulted in 9,000 full-time postal employees' being reduced to part time plus the loss of their benefits, while another 4,000 full-time employees became part time but kept their benefits. However, Johnson said last year's cuts could have been prevented.
"Last spring, the Senate passed a bipartisan postal reform bill that would have addressed the Postal Service's current budget shortfalls and prohibited the agency from eliminating Saturday delivery for at least two years while alternative cost savings are implemented. Unfortunately, the bill was never brought up for a vote in the House, and this inaction prevented postal reform from moving forward," Johnson stated in a news release.
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