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Monday, August 11, 2008

Laptops fading in the Governor/Legislature squabble and other comments

By Gordon Garnos

AT ISSUE: When Governor Rounds found some more money to buy laptops for some of our kids, the disagreement the legislators had with him was to put a stop to his project. It seems now, the laptops are fading from the argument and the question legislators are asking is where did that money come from.

This issue needs to be resolved. Secondly, for a lack of a better name, the Krebs plan to get more tax dollars into the state's highway fund should hit one of the big potholes in the state before it gets stuck in other legislators' minds. And, thirdly, what will Iowa have that South Dakota doesn't have? Big time casinos near our state line.

I'M ABOUT AS confused as the little boy who dropped his gum on the chicken coop floor when it comes to the Legislature/Governor squabble about laptops for our kids. The issue doesn't seem to be so much about laptops for our kids any more as it does about whether or not Governor Mike Rounds pulled a dirty on the Legislature and found the money for 15 more schools to get their students started into the computer world. After all, those computers are out there in a big way and if we don't help our kids get acquainted with them, they will be short changed in their education in a big way as well.

When this fight between the Legislature and the Governor first hit the public, I was concerned that Rounds may have jumped out of bounds going after those computers without the legislators' blessing. Now I am not so sure. He saw the need to help more schools get laptops and if he could scrape up the state's money to help buy them, did he do anything wrong?

Ya know, there is still a third element in state government called the judiciary, made up of circuit courts as well as South Dakota's Supreme Court. If this squabble is as big as some may think, perhaps a trip to the court is necessary to settle who is right and who is wrong.

We should be all aware there are actually legislators who feel the state being involved with teaching our kids about computers isn't necessary. What really scares me is those same legislators probably still support the outdoor biffy way-of-life as well that I have mentioned before....

PERHAPS WE SHOULD not be too hard on state Rep. Shantel Krebs for coming up with the idea of South Dakota having a tax on vehicle miles traveled. This would install a whatchamacallit on all new vehicles and depending on the number of miles traveled would be the tax you would pay. This has been a pilot project in Oregon. Unfortunately, it was estimated to take 20 years to get the project profitable to that state.

Suspicion is that Rep. Krebs took a lot of flak when she first mentioned the idea as later she made it quite clear in that newspaper in that town near Harrisburg that she wasn't advocating such a tax, but one that needed to be looked at; that one, along with other options to get more money into the highway fund.

And there's the sticky wicket. South Dakota's gasoline tax that goes into road building and maintenance just isn't keeping up with the demands for more funding.

Such a tax on vehicle miles traveled is a pretty ridiculous source of revenue in my book. At the same time, South Dakota already has such a tax on the books. When you fill 'er up at the pump, you are paying 22 cents in tax for each gallon you put in your tank and the miles traveled depends on what kind of mileage your vehicle gets. We don't need any more whatchamacallits installed on our cars.

If this committee that Mrs. Krebs is on thinks we need higher gas tax all it has to do is add a few cents to what we are already paying. Then, the voters will decide on how much sense that will make....

IT SOUNDS LIKE a river is about to be dug, starting out in Sioux Falls with tributaries that will stretch for miles. That river will be flowing east and it isn't water that will be flowing. It will be money, money and more money, with a current stronger than the Mighty Mo.

At the mouth of that eight-mile river will be a $90 million casino complex with the state of Iowa getting the tax benefits of a whole lot of hard earned cash straight out of our state, hard earned cash most of us can't afford to send down that river.

The word is that there will be an election Sept. 23 in Lyon County, Iowa, to determine if the folks there want the casino and if the vote passes construction would start in 2010 and would be open to the public in 2011.

Once again such a project is being call economic development. But for whom?

Is South Dakota missing out on something? They don't build $90 million casinos on their losings....

Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and recently retired after 39 years with that newspaper. Garnos, a lifelong resident of South Dakota except for his military service in the U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Presho.


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