OUR VIEW: 14’s potential outweighs concerns of future troubleBig business means big investment in South Dakota. Big business brings jobs and increased tax revenues to the state.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Big business means big investment in South Dakota. Big business brings jobs and increased tax revenues to the state.
Nov. 6, South Dakota voters will decide the fate of Referred Law 14, which would establish the Large Project Development Fund, to be used to attract large business projects to set up shop within our borders.
The fund would be created by taking 22 percent of contractors’ excise tax dollars from the state general fund. The South Dakota Board of Economic Development would then use the money to provide grants for the construction of large economic development projects in the state.
The law would require projects to be worth at least $5 million, and would include rules about which projects are eligible. For example, eligible projects would include laboratories, power generation and transmission projects, wind projects and ag processing sites. Ineligible projects would include retail establishments, residential housing projects and facilities for raising or feeding livestock.
We’ve heard ample debate about this project, and we have some great concerns.
We worry about a perceived lack of transparency behind the process. We wonder if the panel will ever turn down potential companies, either those who should be turned down or those who shouldn’t. We feel that the process in determining the grants could possibly be unfair.
At the same time, we feel that attracting big business to South Dakota is imperative to our state’s future. We acknowledge that often, it takes money to make money.
Could the Large Project Development Fund be the key to bringing the next great employer to Mitchell? Perhaps, and with that hopeful view through such optimistic glasses we therefore give our approval to Referred Law 14.
Corporate welfare is a touchy subject. Using South Dakota tax dollars to pay grant money to millionaires who may not necessarily need it is disagreeable to many. We completely understand this view.
Conversely, the courting of big business is a competitive game, punctuated only by winners and losers. At stake are future tax revenues and employment opportunities. There really is no gray area in between.
We need economic development in our state. We need the accompanying jobs and boost in sales and property taxes. Our existing businesses crave the work they might secure as a result of new businesses coming here. Our schools and business districts need the people these jobs might attract.
Oh, we have our misgivings and worries. We hope that if the program is adopted, legislators will address some of those concerns and improve the program over time. In fact, with this endorsement we urge them to constantly improve the process.
But in the end, we feel that the potential good for South Dakota outweighs any perceived — and not yet real — bad.
We therefore give our approval, and a yes vote, to Referred Law 14.