Entries Tagged 'State Funding' ↓

Half-Penny Sales tax increase was a bad idea from the get go

Noem keeps up with the tradition of past Republican Governors in our state, telling us how poor we are right before the legislative session, then once it is over they start spending money on pet projects (mostly corporate handouts). Oldest trick in the book. This even comes after added revenue from online sales and the half penny increase;

Noem announced her budget plans Tuesday, which urged state departments to tighten their belts as they head into a difficult financial year. That plan included not having any discretionary inflation increases for overall K-12 education, Medicaid providers and state employees.

But that means there will be no change between target teacher salaries from 2020 to 2021, making it the third year the state has fallen behind on its promise to keep teacher pay competitive if the budget passes

I said it was a bad idea to raise taxes because I knew this would happen, the money went straight into the general fund for the Governor and legislature to waste. Even after several years, it still makes me livid that the legislature didn’t find the money elsewhere (that they have in investment funds) to pay teachers more. Now we are back to square one, and an unneeded tax increase to boot. Don’t get me started. Our State government has been inept for decades, and gets worse by the day.

The Myth about State Vendors

Believe it or not, not all services the state requires can be accomplished by private businesses located in our state. I know that may come as a shock to you, but that is just the way it is. Even if the state is purchasing a product or service from a state owned business, there is usually no requirements that business has to purchase other materials needed to complete the project in state. Just like private business, the state has to use the best resources available at the most reasonable price.

You may disagree with the state using a Minnesota firm for their idiotic meth campaign, but it likely went through proper channels. I have worked in printing for over 25 years, and the government, whether that is Federal, State or even local (like county, school and city) buys mountains of products out of state. I have bid on and won jobs from Minnesota, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, New York, and many more out of state agencies and cities including Portland and San Francisco. Even state private non-profit agencies like the Chamber and other trade organizations buy products from out of state.

While it is disheartening to many people, this ‘national’ commerce actually saves taxpayers money (or it should) because you are getting the best product for it’s value in a timely manner. That is NOT always the case (like the meth campaign), but most of the time. Simply saying we have to use a local firm could end up costing us a lot more in the end. Look at the administration building and Midco aquatic center, very expensive and both with issues, we used local contractors.

Just Sayin’

While most South Dakotans barely scrape by, $355 Billion sits here in tax free trust havens

How much is $355 Billion? It is 710 times the City of Sioux Falls yearly budget. Yeah, it’s a lot of dough, and most South Dakotans don’t have a clue our legislators are allowing this while our benefit to the state coffers is virtually ZERO;

In recent years, countries outside the US have been cracking down on offshore wealth. But according to an official in a traditional tax haven, who has watched as wealth has fled that country’s coffers for the US, the protections offered by states such as South Dakota are undermining global attempts to control tax dodging, kleptocracy and money-laundering. “One of the core issues in fighting a guerrilla war is that if the guerrillas have a safe harbour, you can’t win,” the official told me. “Well, the US is giving financial criminals a safe harbour, and a really effective safe harbour – far more effective than anything they ever had in Jersey or the Bahamas or wherever.”

That means legislators are nodding through bills that they do not understand, at the behest of an industry that is sucking in ever-greater volumes of money from all over the world. If this was happening on a Caribbean island, or a European micro-principality, it would not be surprising, but this is the US. Aren’t ordinary South Dakotans concerned about what their state is enabling?

“The voters don’t have a clue what this means. They’ve never seen a feudal society, they don’t have a clue what they’re enabling,” Wismer said. “I don’t think there are 100 people in this state who understand the ramifications of what we’ve done.”

That’s what we get with ONE party rule in South Dakota (and it doesn’t even matter which party). If we could even implement a teeny-tiny tax on this wealth, it would help us out tremendously in education, road funding and healthcare as well as many other things. We could eliminate video lottery, the food tax, reduce property taxes and help address our drug crisis in the state. But we continue to elect the greedy and the stupid (who are one in the same).

Egyptian Delegation Press Conference

Isn’t it amazing what ONE Democratic Legislator can accomplish.

Sioux Falls City Council does not need to raise property taxes

Besides the fact that the county and school district are going opt-out crazy (even though the SFSD has a $11 Billion in valuations and we are looking at another record year in building permits) the city council gets to vote on property tax increases at the end of September (historically).  The state allows between 2%-3%. Last year the council voted 7-1 to increase it by 2.1% (Stehly was the lone NO vote).

Yesterday during the city council meeting, councilor Pat Starr pointed out that while the city only needs a 25% reserve fund they have around 38%.

There really is NO viable reason the city needs to vote for this increase. It will be interesting to see how the city council votes on this increase since I can’t remember the last time it has ever been voted down. I think it has passed every single year for at least the last decade.

We all know that the RS5 rarely votes for the citizens, so it will be fun to listen to their reasons why they need to vote for this unneeded increase. I have often argued with record growth in our city (and valuations) we shouldn’t have to increase the percentage the city taxes.

Is Rep. Haugaard going to lead the charge in repealing video lottery?

I found this quote from Haugaard in the Argus Leader yesterday interesting;

Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, pointed out that the role of government is to “never exercise a vice upon the citizens” and questioned how state officials can stop the “steamroller” of legalized marijuana.

Not to get in an argument on whether legalized mary jane is less harmful then legalized video lottery (and probably raise a heckuva a lot more tax revenue). But if Haugaard is so concerned about ‘vices’ being thrown upon the citizens of South Dakota I’m assuming he will lead the charge to have the legislature to repeal video lottery in our state during the next session? I have often argued that VL is a revenue neutral, if not a revenue negative on our state with all the social costs associated with it in crime (robberies), bankruptcies, broken families and even suicide.

So Steven, will you do the right thing and repeal this vice on the citizens of South Dakota?

The liquor license dilemma

Our daily paper has an intriguing story about liquor licenses. Mostly a bunch of people whining about the process. If I was in the state legislature I would present what they do in most states and have a yearly licensing fee for selling liquor.  I think it is ok to separate beer and wine from selling full on liquor, but I would combine the those two licenses into one and double that fee.

So how would it work?

• First I would eliminate who could have them, no waiting lists, etc. As long as your establishment was of a certain size and you could prove you were opening a viable business you could have one. Obviously free market competition would stop us from having a liquor bar on every corner.

• I would charge a yearly licensing fee. In larger markets like SF it would be much higher and based on population (like it kind of is now). For example the fee in SF would be $10K a year while in Baltic it would be much lower.

• Grandfathering license holders. This wouldn’t be for eternity, but I would set a time limit for phasing them out. How would that work? First, once a yearly fee is determined you would assess the value of the license you currently own. Each town would be the same within that town. Right now a new license is worth around $190K in Sioux Falls. So if the new licensing fee was $10K a year and you owned one of these licenses in SF you wouldn’t have to pay the fee for 19 years. But I would cap it at 20 years. In other words in 20 years after the new law takes place all of the old style of licenses would be null and void.

• The old licenses would NOT be transferable to another location but could be to a new owner at the same location with the same business model.

• I would give the option of selling the old license back to the municipality at 50% of the value if you wanted to get out of the bar business. I think this change alone would eliminate a lot of the old licenses. The new licensing fees would easily cover these costs for the cities.

Everyone who owns a license now complains they would lose there investment, but I think a plan like I suggested would still give value to that license. I also think that a ‘license’ shouldn’t be considered an investment anyway. It’s a frickin’ license. I think the way the system is set up now, you have a lot of the big guys hoarding the licenses, and that’s not fair. This would even the playing field and would actually produce better establishments based on service instead of how much money you have or the value of your liquor license. Think about it, what other license in SD is forever? There isn’t one that I can think of. Even your driver’s license has to be renewed every couple of years.

Is our state legislature brave enough to take such steps? Nope. They are more worried about protecting a certain class of people instead of fostering entrepreneurship. Besides, they are more concerned about God, Guns and Abortion.

Pre-K education is part of the ‘socialist’ agenda?

Not only would PRE-K education save families millions in daycare it would also better prepare young students for K-12. One of the complaints I have heard from kindergarten and even 1st grade teachers in Sioux Falls is they spend half their time teaching life skills (like wiping kids behinds) that the parents ‘should have’ thought these kids before enrolling them in regular school. All the other arguments aside, I had to laugh about the ‘socialist’ agenda argument.

In case you haven’t noticed our fore fathers based our Republic on a socialist platform. Besides regular public education (K-12) being a socialist program, the US Military is one of the biggest socialist programs we have. Add to that the interstate highway system, the VA, Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, Public Libraries and even locally snow removal and our parks system, the list goes on. We all pay taxes to promote the social welfare of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority, I know that is hard to swallow, but that’s socialism folks.

I had to laugh when recently I heard a local radio host say he was shocked about openly Socialist lawmakers in Washington like Bernie Sanders. Those lawmakers get it, we have been a socialist democracy since almost day one. This is not something NEW that would be ‘snuck’ in on Pre-K education. Let’s admit it, most lawmakers in Pierre hate public education, that’s why they try to starve it every year. They believe only the wealthy deserve to be educated. These same lawmakers also don’t want an educated work force, because they will demand higher pay. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot when we refuse to fund these programs, it hurts the state economically. Who knew that our ‘socialism’ actually benefits our ‘capitalism’.

Rep. Haugaard hates the petition/initiative process because he says ‘Direct Democracy’ doesn’t work.

Haugaard said this, this morning during the legislative coffee; “Direct democracy doesn’t work.” I about fell out of my chair laughing. Once again, another state legislator makes a ridiculous statement NOT based on facts.

First, let’s look to direct democracy in our state. Many of the greatest changes in state law have occurred due to initiatives, some of the worst changes in state law have occurred in the state legislature. I could go thru a long list of examples, but you know what I am talking about.

As for internationally, the Swiss people have had ‘Direct Democracy’ for decades and it works and is very popular. The Swiss people vote on laws 4 times a year and voter turnout is around 50% over the past 30 years (Americans are around 50% over the same time period in national elections). A recent poll shows 65% of Swiss people are satisfied with their government (Americans are at about 58% but another 61% want to see ‘significant changes’). On top of that the Swiss people have one of the highest standard of living in the world. Switzerland rates #2 in the world for per capita wealth.

I challenge Mr. Haugaard to tell a Swiss citizen that “Direct democracy doesn’t work.” They would certainly disagree. Not only does it work, it lifts people up in more ways then you can even imagine. Leave the petition/initiative process alone, it’s not broken and it works extremely well. Our state legislature, not so much.

Legislative Coffee • Sioux Falls • Feb 2, 2019

I guess not all of our legislature is Whacky. It seems (most of) this delegation supports having a Spanish driver’s license test, legalizing industrial hemp, studying making ingestion a misdemenor. But they want to change absentee voting from 45 days to ‘something else’. I don’t agree, leave it as is. As Representative Sullivan said, “I started campaigning and knocking on doors in August.” She also added we need to make it easier for people to vote. 100% Agreed!

I do however think that absentees should be mailed to the SD address, NOT snowbird address. I think if you travel for business and are out of state quite a bit that should be an exception, but if you don’t actually physically live here at least 95% of the time, you shouldn’t be able to vote. A great example is a certain individual who is extremely wealthy who has a SF address, and constantly is nosing around in city government but lives most of the time in California. I don’t agree with this. If you want to participate in state and municipal government, great, but you also have to live here. It is obvious you are keeping your SD address for tax shelter purposes (another law that should change).