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Maher: Take less money from firms

PIERRE -- A state senator wants to reduce the amount of money being taken from South Dakota businesses to pay for the governor's Future Fund grants.

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Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, said he is trying to offset increases that happened in recent years.

State records indicate the amount received annually increased from $11.5 million in fiscal 2010 to $14 million in fiscal 2013.

Maher said the real complaint is that employers and legislators don't have any control over how a governor disburses the grants.

The amounts paid by employers to the Future Fund have risen during recent years in part because the taxable wage base increased by $1,000 annually under state law.

The wage base is the amount to which the Future Fund fee is applied. The wage base is $14,000 this year and is scheduled to be $15,000 in 2015.

Last year, Gov. Dennis Daugaard made nearly $8.4 million of grants from the Future Fund, according to the annual report posted on a state web site. Another grant of more than $4 million was also withdrawn.

Maher offered his amendment Tuesday morning during a hearing by the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on another piece of legislation about the state's unemployment tax rates for businesses.

The panel's chairman, Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown, deferred the unemployment-tax legislation, HB 1045, and Maher's pending amendment until the committee meets again Thursday.