Hey, South Dakota businesses! Senator Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel) wanted to cut your taxes. Scratch that—he didn't even want to cut them; he just wanted to make them grow a little less than planned. And everybody stood up in Senate Commerce and Energy and said, "No way!"
On Tuesday, Senator Maher proposed an amendment to House Bill 1045. That bill revises the rates employers pay into South Dakota's unemployment insurance program. Maher wanted to use this bill to adjust downward the rates employers pay to support the Future Fund—you know, the governor's economic slush fund from which Richard Benda finagled $550,000 for his personal enrichment. (Funny that the Governor's reviews didn't include reducing the amount of money available in the Future Fund as a safeguard against misappropriation.) The Future Fund tax is producing $14.1 million for the govenror's slushy purposes this fiscal year. Maher's amendment would have pulled back predicted growth in the FY 2015 amount from $15.8 million to $15.2 million.
That cut-the-rate-of-growth suggestion appears to have discombobulated Senate Commerce and Energy chair Ried Holien, who deferred action on the Maher amendment (seconded by our gal Sen. Angie Buhl O'Donnell!) until Thursday, by which time the committee was able to round up opponent testimony from the governor's economic development chief Pat Costello; ecdev honchos from Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, and Brookings; and even AFL-CIO rep Mark Anderson. The committee beat down the Maher tax cut on a voice vote and moved HB 1045 to the full Senate.
Senator Maher called the fierce mobilization against scaling back a government program "absolutely phenomenal." Try taking the crony capitalist bear's steak, and it will come out growling.