Legislative Leadership, Part 2

This is the second in a two-part post. You can read the first part here.

TRANSPARENCY. Open.SD.gov is South Dakota’s transparency website. Information pertaining to contracts, revenues, expenditures, and more is accessible here.

INFRASTRUCTURE.

RAVE: 80% of roads are in good to excellent condition today.

HAWLEY: agrees that the US interstate and state roads are in good shape due to the stimulus dollars put in over the years to increase their quality, but the real infrastructure crises is with township and county roads. One positive aspect of the transportation bill is extra funds for townships and counties for roads and setting a bridge fund.

GOVERNOR DAUGAARD: Highlights that we have $14 Billion in road assets across the state and that the maintenance of our infrastructure system is under funded. In the State of the State Address, the governor described a tax/fee scheme that would address some of these funding short falls.

  • Increase vehicle excess tax from 3% to 4% = $26 million state revenue dollars.
  • Increase motor usage tax by 2 cents this year and each year thereafter = $13.7 million state revenue dollars.
  • (The gas tax has not inflated overtime.)
  • Vehicle Registration Fee $8.7 million local revenue dollars.
  • Non-Commercial Vehicle Registration Fees
  • Grant program to address local bridge needs $15 million local revenue dollars.

The proposed increases would bring $40 million in state revenue and $10.7 million in local revenue =  $50.5 million more revenue dollars to apply towards road infrastructure. (In earlier work sessions with proposed tax/fee scheme was to bring $100 million additional revenue dollars, but was changed because the scheme would have impacted the agricultural industry too much.)

RAVE: wants to make sure that if the legislator is going to down size the route of raising taxes/fees that it’s done appropriately.

SUTTON: Every bill changes from its original proposal, but there is a far amount of agreement work must be done. The questions come in when we ask where the money comes from and how many dollars to throw towards infrastructure. Like this proposal is less than came out of the work group. There is also a hesitation when there is a 2 cents tax increase ever year thereafter with no sun set clause or termination in sight.

GOSCH: Any bill that requires a 2/3 majority to pass will always be more difficult to move forward.

RAVE: Any gas tax going forward will affect all gasoline including ethanol.

JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM.

It was reported that in 2013, 7/10 youth committed to the SD Department of Corrections were for misdemeanors offenders, probation violations, and status offenses; e.g. under age drinking or truancy.

RAVE: keeping young people at home and offering support services is vital. The shift will reduce the committed numbers by 65% in 2020.

SUTTON: gives Governor a lot of credit. Any time you keep these kids out of a facility that costs $44,000 to $144,000/year has to be good, as well as, providing diversion activities and keeping the children in their communities and offering support to the family. Great initiative.

MEDICAID.

SUTTON: is studying the Tennessee Model and understand SD may not get full expansion.
GOSCH: “A majority of states have not expanded Medicaid.” (I think it’s fair to say a majority has – over half of the United States has expanded Medicaid – 27 states as well as the District of Columbia, and four more considering expanding Medicaid.)

Map

HAWLEY: If we expanded Medicaid SD would receive $350 million in 2020 and would be a net growth of SD’s economy over the 10% ($35 million) we’d pay in plus expenses ($1.5 million). Worse case scenario is that we have health care coverage for people for five years at which time the federal government may not be able to continue funding and we could have a stop clause in the bill to address such an event.

SUTTON: rural health care workers are in the front lines of this debate and would greatly benefit from the expansion of Medicaid. What also has benefitted rural health care workers is the CT program and biomed courses in small communities; e.g. Burke, Gregory, and South Central.

RAVE: the scholarship fund will out create some significant benefits offer 300 Vocational/Technical Scholarships.

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