On Thursday morning, the Legislature’s Republican and Democratic leaders plan to hold a joint news conference “to discuss progress on an economic development bill during the 88th Legislative Session.” For those of you keeping score at home, Thursday is working day 32 of the 38-day session. That means the Legislature has five working days next week, followed by a two-week break and then the final day on Monday, March 25.
Undoubtedly the legislators and the governor want to propose, again, incentives and tax breaks for businesses to develop in South Dakota. Voters in November rejected the large-project grants program that Gov. Dennis Daugaard and many of his fellow Republicans in the Legislature passed. To this point, the public has seen only possible pieces of whatever is going to be proposed this time.
By contrast, the governor and the chief justice and the Legislature’s leaders combined during the past year to put together a set of major reforms for South Dakota’s criminal justice system so that more non-violent offenders can serve their punishments in their communities, receiving treatment while continuing to be part of their families and holding jobs. That bill, SB 70, flew through the Senate and the House. The big signing ceremony is already old news.
Now we will have yet another tax-break plan that the public will get to consider for perhaps as little as one week and for at most three weeks. We’ve seen some possible pieces, such as the Munsterman-Werner bill that provides essentially a sales- and use-tax reduction of 2 percent and offers assistance to economic development offices, and the wind-energy incentives bill, which would offer approximately a 2 percent tax break. We also saw the Lust proposal to provide tax incentives for data centers. But whether those are the final key pieces isn’t known.