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Crony Capitalism Unchecked: Reduction in Biz Tax for Future Fund Rejected

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.


  1. John Tsitrian 2014.02.07

    As an employer who pays into this thing I'm basically okay with the concept, which I understood was dedication to workforce development. I saw a couple of days ago where Gov. DD awarded $8+ million from the fund to school districts around the state to enhance their training programs. If the money stays committed to these types of uses, fine. Pulling cash out of it to hand over to enterprises like NBP is not a good thing, and I don't recall that it was ever intended for uses like that. We employers pay into it via our quarterly Unemployment Insurance liabilities and as far as I've known, it was always meant to strengthen SD's labor pool. Maher's bill didn't really provide much in the way of "relief" but even in defeat it might help focus attention on the source of the money, the control of it, and the use of it.

  2. Porter Lansing 2014.02.07

    Is this what they do in Pierre? C'mon, man! A bunch of ultra-conservative Republicans who demand less gov't move heaven and earth to get elected to the job of making improvements to the state, of which there are so many needed, and they propose preposterous propositions (forcing manufacturers to warrant electronics for seven years, banning abortion, sanctioning anti-gay bigotry) that have absolutely no chance of being upheld in court, all in the name of conservative prairie values. By their own admission they won't do anything to make Obama look good even if it's good for all (medicaid expansion). So it's all just stalling until the session is over. Now's the time to end the hate, vote for some liberal leadership and to address the pressing issues delaying growth in the Sunshine State.

  3. grudznick 2014.02.07

    People from his neck of the wood tell me that young Mr. Maher does not take a beat down sitting down. Expect a vicious beat back on the legislature floors.

  4. Jim 2014.02.07

    Grudz, I got half of mind to tell some of these fellers just to knock it off.

  5. mhs 2014.02.08

    I'm a fan of the Futures Fund. A thousand years ago when Mr. Jones and I were at GOED and since then, it was done many, many good things mostly as the job-training tool it was envisioned as.

    That said, $14mil is a lot of annual revenue. A lot. I've both paid in to and received compensation from the UI fund over the years. A sensible reduction in the rate that this bill proposed won't hurt.

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