Are South Dakota Legislators Suffering from Battered Government Syndrome?
PIERRE - The South Dakota House is working to craft a bill that is meant to spur local economic development. The wording of the bill is changing rapidly, but the upshot is that cities, towns and rural areas would be given the right to offer state funded grants and municipal tax refunds in order to encourage businesses to locate within their boundaries.
There is a big question that no one seems to be asking here: why do we need this? The answer that most would give is that the large project development fund was defeated at the ballot box, leaving the state with no incentive structure after the contractor’s excise tax refund program expired at the end of the year. However, that isn’t really an answer because it doesn’t tell us why we needed either of those programs either.
Perhaps the most malicious myth perpetrated in the last 50 years by Corporate America is that no place is already good enough. To put this into context; at 4.4% the unemployment rate is way below the national average, we are a union-killing “right to work” (for less) state, and perhaps most importantly we have no state level corporate or personal income tax.
Despite all of the above, our elected representatives would have us believe that South Dakota is not attractive enough to businesses as it is. At the same time, they argue that there is no money to make up for previous years’ drastic cuts to health care and schools, and no money to accept Medicaid expansion that would be fully funded by the federal government for 3 years and 90% funded after that. Whenever a new progressive idea is floated, you can bet the answer will be “there is no money for that.”
However, the lack of funds apparently does not apply to corporate give backs. Today it is state legislators, and after this passes, tomorrow it will be local officials bending over backwards to find ways to refund the already insufficient tax monies to companies who swear they need it or they will locate elsewhere. The whole thing seems like a shakedown.
The willing self-victimization here is appalling. It is akin to a battered spouse making a special meal so their abusive partner won’t leave them. At some point these people need to have their bluff called.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.