Senate Bill 155 challenges my political sensibilities. SB 155 would establish a "local government road improvement grant fund" to rebuild local roads and bridges. As you bump along to work this morning, you'll likely agree our state needs to invest more in our infrastructure. With just one dissenting vote in the Senate last week, SB 155 shows our legislators may have to will to solve some practical problems.
But here's the catch: SB 155 only fixes roads built to serve new agricultural facilities. If the road out to your farm or subdivision is going to heck and your township can't afford to repave it, the state won't help. But if Big Ag wants to build a big stinky pig CAFO near your house, the state will rush to pay for fixing the road to the hog-chute door.
I like investing in infrastructure, but investment focused on one industry seems narrow-minded. Just as with education, we have a common interest in paying for shared public services. But if one new or expanding business alone requires a major upgrade in a road, perhaps instead of socializing that cost, that business should bear a greater portion of the burden for that improvement. Perhaps instead of a state grant, funding for such single-business favoritism should come from a special tax assessment on that single business.
Senate Bill 155 looks like just one more way for the state government to pressure local officials into accepting South Dakota's Butzian ag policies. And what better pressure can Pierre exert than dangling cash in front of strapped townships?
SB 155 goes before House Local Government tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, 10 a.m. Neighbors, if you want more funding for your local roads, call those committee members and say so. But ask them to expand their vision and make these funds available for all local governments that need to improve their roads and bridges, not just for favors to Big Ag.
Of course, if SB 155 does pass as is, be sure to drop by that new CAFO down your new road and remind the Big Ag magnates that "You didn't build that!"