Debate Continues On Referred Law 14
by Jill Johnson
October 18, 2012 5:50 PM
When you get to the polls, you'll have the chance to vote yes or no on Referred Law 14. The law would provide grant money to larg companies looking to build in the state. But not everyone agrees with how the fund would be implemented and where the money would come from.
Approved as House Bill 1230 in the legislature, there's been enough opposition, and enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. By voting yes to now Referred Law 14, you would say yes to establishing the 'Large Project Development Fund'. The fund is something the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is all about.
Bob O'Connell from the Sioux Falls Areas Chamber of Commerce says, "It gives us a chance to incent local companies to expand, South Dakota companies to expand or to bring in other companies from outside the state."
If it passed, beginning in January, 22 percent of contractors' excise tax revenues would be transfered from the state's general fund to the new development fund. That money would provide grants to companies building large projects in the state. To be eligible for the grants, your project must cost $5 million or more. Ultimately, it's up to the South Dakota Board of Economic Development to decide who recieves one.
O"Connell said, "You have to show that you're going to stay here and that you're going to spend money here and that you're going to create jobs here."
But others like Democratic State Representative Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton says that's part of the problem, there's no transparancy and no accountability.
Rep. Hunhoff said, "You can track, that the companies who are getting big, government grants in South Dakota are also making very large contributions to the ruling party in Pierre."
He also doesn't believe in taking money from the general fund which he feels should go to education, health care and other essential goverment services.
Rep. Hunhoff said, "We all agree there's never enough money there for the schools and we cannot bleed money from the fund for large corporate projects like this."
However controversial, it's now up to the voters to decide what happens next.
The two groups also disagree on how much the program would cost. The chamber says it would cost about $17 million. Rep. Hunhoff says it would cost about two to three times more.