Week Nine of the 88th Legislative Session

By Rep. Scott Parsley, Dist. 8
The main run of the first year of the 88th session of the South Dakota Legislature came to an end late on Friday evening, March 8.
This year’s legislative session had two very significant accomplishments, but we could have done better in some areas.
The two pillars of the session were the passage of the “Criminal Reform Act,” SB 70 and the “Building South Dakota” economic development plan for the future, SB 235.
SB 70, the Criminal Reform Act, will provide resources for the establishments of Drug Courts and Alcohol Courts. Both of these courts will allow judges to sentence those who committed non-violent crimes where alcohol or drugs are involved to one of these two alternatives rather than jail. Today the law requires jail sentences for any crime, violent or non-violent, even when it is plain to see that alcohol or drugs played a major role in the crime.
These courts have been used with great success in many other states. The results elsewhere have been reduced recidivism as well as significant reductions in criminal court costs and reduced need for new prisons.
The second pillar of this year’s legislative session was SB 235, the Building South Dakota Act, which was passed the last day of the session. SB 235 is a very unique approach to economic development incentives for large business while providing resources for developing South Dakota.
In order for a large business to receive an incentive it must be determined that the business would not come to South Dakota without the incentive. If the business is awarded an incentive, the form of the incentive will be a forgiveness of one to four percent of the sales tax paid during construction. All of the contractors excise tax paid by this business during construction along with a portion of the Unclaimed Bank Property will fund the Building South Dakota Fund. This fund will be used for five different purposes, 25 percent for the South Dakota Housing Trust fund, 25 percent for infrastructure development, 15 percent for grants to local economic development efforts, five percent REDI reinvestment and 30 percent to K-12 workforce education.
This is a very unique approach to economic development by using resources from big projects to fund other economic development efforts in the state. In particular this is unique in its funding of K-12 education, one of the most important aspects of economic development, outside of the education funding formula.
While some very positive things were accomplished in this session, there were things that we could have done better. In funding education and Medicaid, two areas of the budget that had significant cuts in 2011, received minor increases in the 2014 budget.
The Governor’s budget proposal for 2014 called for a three percent increase in funding to education and Medicaid, both of which were approved in the 2014 budget. However these were not real three percent increases as both education and Medicaid received one time monies in 2013 which was included when the calculations were made. Effectively this means that education received a real increase of about 1.8 percent and Medicaid received an increase of slightly under one percent. With this increase we are funding education at $7 per student less than five years ago.
All in all, the 88th session of the South Dakota Legislature had some very significant accomplishments as well as leaving funding for education and Medicaid not yet fully resolved.
I would like to thank the voters of District 8 for trusting me to represent you in Pierre. I enjoyed hearing from you during the session and ask that you would stay in touch with me and share ideas you may have for the upcoming legislative session. Thank you for your confidence and support.

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