Candidates for SD District 17 seats disagree on ways to boost business
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Two weeks from Tuesday, South Dakota voters will go to the polls to decide seven ballot issues. One is an economic development program that gives money to companies making investments of five-million dollars, or more, in the state.
The legislature voted to funnel 22% of contractors' excise tax revenues out of the general fund and into this Large Project Development Fund.
Democrat Marion Sorlien was part of the effort to get the ballot measure,which would overturn the legislation, onto the ballot. The former Sioux Falls teacher thinks the program will hurt education and healthcare.
"To take money out of the general fund in the same year that you're cutting everything at 10%, just didn't make any sense," said Sorlien.
Fellow Democrat, Vermillion economist Ray Ring agrees.
"We need the general fund money for education, particularly for education and healthcare," added Ring.
However Republican Nancy Rasmussen, who lives on a farm near Hurley, says that state needs to do more to bring business in.
"I think economic development is a must, and developing the fund, I think, is a good idea," disputed Nancy Rasmussen
All three are candidates for the State House in District 17.
Like many issues, the Large Project Development Fund seems to be split down party lines.
"It needs to be funded from another place. Right now it's funded from the general fund, and that's of course where education and health care are funded from. So, we're pitting one against the other, and I don't think that's what we want to do in either case," said State Senate Candidate Tom Jones.
"Some of the critics are saying it's taking away from children and old people, and that's not true. It's going to be a neutral revenue type deal. It's not taking money out of the general fund. It is really a good tool to recruit businesses, and we need that," John Chicoine disagreed.
State Representative Jones wrapped up his first term in the House this year, and is now running for Senate. The Democrat from Viborg faces John Chicoine, a retired chiropractor and former city councilman from Parker, South Dakota.
The candidates participated in a forum put on by the Vermillion Christian Home Educators Cooperative, Tuesday night.
A dozen students from the group's politics class were put in charge, coming up with questions, contacting the candidates, and publicizing the event.
Even though they're not old enough to vote, the students say the forum provided a civics lesson that can't be learned by reading a book.
The kids grilled the candidates on everything from gun control to education.
"Everyone really cares about education and how it works. So, we felt that was really important to ask," explained 14-year-old Hannah Hailey
"It's a real hands-on experience that we can see in front of us and be able to have interaction with people," said 17-year-old Nathan Ford, of Vermillion.
Another question the students had: how the candidates would balance the needs of business with the need to protect the environment.
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