Buyer Beware: The Danger of Daugaard

Hold on to your piggy banks, because Governor Daugaard is on the prowl. Rather than educate our children to, you know, grow up and use their education to prosper in South Dakota, Daugaard professes that giving out corporate welfare to his comrades and campaign donors is a better use of taxpayer funds.

But here’s the thing – South Dakotans aren’t buying the scheme lauded by Daugaard. In a recent poll, 62% of South Dakotans opposed the corporate give-away, while only 19% liked the idea. 18% were undecided.*

Daugaard’s bill (HB 1230) gives 22% of the contractor’s excise tax — about $16 million per year — to a Large Projects Development Fund. Grants would be awarded to corporate projects at the discretion of the governor’s office. The money would otherwise go to the General Fund, which is used for schools and health care. (Because businesses can totally make it in this state without educated people and a healthy workforce…)

Daugaard has pulled the veil over South Dakotans’ eyes before. In 2010, a similar program gave millions of dollars in tax rebates to TransCanada Pipeline, even though the company produced few permanent jobs in South Dakota.

Frankly, the coins in our piggy bank deserve better, and so does South Dakota. That’s why Democrats proposed tougher campaign finance laws and an economic development reporting system in the 2011 legislative session.

Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, concludes:

“The old rebate program had good intentions, but it clearly didn’t work. This bill just throws good money after bad. It will deny our children and seniors millions of dollars every year. Government officials should not pick winners and losers in the marketplace. Unchecked corporate giveaways don’t create jobs. This is a waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when we are struggling to keep teachers in our classrooms and trying to keep nursing homes from closing because of the governor’s budget mistakes. The governor is wrong to give away General Fund tax dollars at the same time that he is cutting schools and health care. I’m sure it would only be a coincidence when corporate campaign checks and state checks to corporations begin to cross in the mail.”

As Democrats, we’re committed to making sure South Dakota works for all of South Dakota.

* Poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, which sampled 1,667 South Dakota voters between Feb. 25 and 27, 2011. Margin of error: 2.4%

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