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Democrats Submit 22,791 Signatures to Refer Corporate Welfare

Don't shout "Success!" just yet, but state Democratic Party chairman Ben Nesselhuf appears to have earned his pay for the month. A press release from the South Dakota Democratic Party announces that it and its petition partners are submitting 22,791 signatures to refer House Bill 1230 to a public vote on the 2012 general election ballot.

HB 1230 is the Large Projects Development Fund proposed by Governor Dennis Daugaard and passed by the Legislature this winter. The fund takes 22% of revenue from the contractors' excise tax out of the state general fund and dedicates that money toward economic development grants to encourage corporations to set up shop and expand in South Dakota.

In other words, at a time when we are cutting $44 million a year from K-12 education, our governor and Legislature think we have $16 million to $20 million a year to hand out as corporate welfare to undercapitalized businesses that are too weak to move or grow without a government crutch.

Secretary of State Jason Gant still has to certify that these petitions contain at least 15,855 valid signatures from registered South Dakota voters. The smoking ban referendum petitions submitted in 2009 included over 25,000 signatures, but Secretary of State Chris Nelson was able to reject almost 9,000 of them and initially throw out the referendum before the courts overruled him. It thus is not outside the realm of possibility that Secretary Gant and his eagle-eyed minions could find a way to throw out 7,000 of the signatures before them on this measure.

Nonetheless, this petition drive shows signs that the Democratic Party under Nesselhuf's leadership is ready to rumble. Out of all the crazy things the Legislature did this year, Chairman Ben was able to latch onto a substantive and somewhat complicated bill, mobilize hundreds of volunteers, and gather thousands of signatures from voters of all parties. Even if Secretary Gant effectively wields his big eraser, Nesselhuf has successfully engineered a statewide campaign to send a strong signal to Pierre on the unpopularity of the Governor's perceived budget priorities.

And if the petitions do pass muster, the referendum on corporate welfare will provide Democratic candidates up and down the ticket an excellent platform from which to challenge Republicans on why they fund corporations before kindergartners. I can't wait to spend 2012 having that conversation with Russ Olson, Patty Stricherz, and the rest of the GOP gang.

Update 12:35 CDT: Pat Powers notifies the press that Secretary Gant has indeed received the HB 1230 referendum petitions with just under 23,000 signatures. Secretary Gant has not yet received petitions from the Tea Partiers attempting to refer two bills related to federal health care reform, HB 38 and HB 43. Those petitions are due on Gant's desk today.

Update 19:37 CDT: I come home from building a front step and find a second e-mail from Mr. Powers announcing no sign of petitions from Barb Lindberg and the Citizens for Liberty. So for the second year in a row, South Dakota Tea Partiers muster the organizational know-how to put ObamaCare on the statewide ballot. but don't feel bad, Barb: you Tea Partiers hate government handouts, right? So come help us campaign against Governor Daugaard's corporate welfare!


  1. Michael Blacl 2011.06.27

    Everyone whines about the lack of capital for their favorite government program but they are unwilling to tackle the biggest problem of declining sales tax revenue: the loss of sales (use) tax revenue from internet transactions. By state law, we are all required to pay use tax on out of state purchases. As a business, our studio pays this tax on things like cameras and flashes - things that are not available locally. We pay the 4% to the state. Businesses that ignore the rules will be dealt with during a sales tax audit. It's not a matter "if" you be audited by the state but "when". Every citizen of the state is also required by law to submit use tax just as any business would be. Think of the millions of dollars in lost revenue caused by the lack of use tax collection the next time you cut funds for our kids' education or for economic development.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.06.27

    Until you show me nunmbers, I refuse to accept the assertion that internet sales are a bigger problem than the outright unwillingness of Republicans to invest in education and other public services.

  3. Guy 2011.06.27

    Well, well,'s about time! Finally, somebody is going to address the corporate welfare problem. Many corporations and business people continually complain that government is too big and takes too much of their money, yet, when grants are offered these are the same people who suddenly forget what they preach and come running with their money bags open. Thank you Democratic Party and stick to cutting out corporate welfare.

  4. mike 2011.06.27

    This is interesting.

  5. SLPSH 2011.06.27

    Am looking to have the same conversation w/my district Reps and Senator about funding the corps and telling school children they aren't important--we don't need to fund you. A sad sad day in South Dakota came last March when we balanced the budget on the backs of children, seniors, minority, and low income. Not at a Christina attitude that is for sure.

  6. Guy 2011.06.28

    Yes, come Tea Party people and sign the Democrat's petition against welfare handouts to corporations. Do you want more of your hard-earned money going to a business that already makes a huge profit along with tax loopholes? Or is your movement actually being funded by these same companies, making you hypocrits and phoney-baloneys? Ah, time will continue to tell.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.06.28

    You know, Guy, I'm pretty sure a few folks who would identify with the "Tea Party" label signed my petitions.

  8. Guy 2011.06.28

    I would hope so Corey.

  9. Curtis Loesch 2011.06.28

    Teapot Partayers are all about government handouts, as long as the handouts go to themselves. I'd be pleased to someday see them (from afar on Google Earth) in their own bucolic little enclave somewhere west of Casper. Those of us able-and-willing tax-payers (schmucks) could contribute an occasional stagecoach load of vouchers to fund their little experiment in under-funded government and they could live happily ever-after.

  10. james lowen 2011.08.02

    i am against lazy people who does not want to work and want handout this is not fair for us hard working people that why the post office is losing money i am against obama because he give our taxes money to lazy people who do not want to work and cheat goverment. he support the troops more then the hard workers

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