In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator. — Samuel Adams, letter to the Legislature of Massachusetts, 17 January 1794

South Dakotans facing the big three big ballot issues

September 17, 2012   ·   By   ·   1 Comments

ballot box

ballot box

AT ISSUE: Among the ballot issues we will be voting on in just a few weeks will be “The Big Three,” Referred Law 14, Initiated Measure 15 and Referred Law 16. These are the biggies as far as the issues go because they involve money, big money, taxpayer money.

THE LINES HAVE been drawn for the three big items among the ballot issues we will be voting on in just eight weeks. During that time we probably will be bombarded with all kinds of media material, radio, television and newspapers from both the proponents and the opponents in each of these issues.

Even though I wrote about the ballot issues before, a review of “The Big Three” I feel is necessary. Also, I¹m including the names of the leadership on each one of the three.

REFERRED LAW 14: It is about big money. The idea is for the state to set aside money for economic development grants. The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce is backing the issue while the opposition will be led by the state Democratic Party.

Governor Daugaard is in favor of this ballot issue, but won’t be campaigning for it because state law forbids the governor from state funds to promote or oppose referendums. And, he said, he is too busy doing his job as governor. The opposition will be led by Democratic legislators.

INITIATED MEASURE 15: It is somewhat in two parts. In one part, if this measure passes, it will send annually $90 million only to the schools in South Dakota and $90 million only to build up the state’s Medicaid funds. But first, the voters have to approve raising South Dakota’s sales tax by one penny, from four to five cents to raise that needed $180 million. One penny doesn¹t sound like much until one realizes that is one penny for every dollar spent.

Supporting Measure 15 is the group, Moving South Dakota Forward, headed by Andy Wiese. Besides school districts and teachers wanting 15 passed by the voters, nursing homes, hospitals and other health providers support it as well.

The reason is because they say current reimbursements for Medicaid is so low it is driving providers to refuse to accept Medicaid or to raise their prices for privately insured patients.

Governor Daugaard is opposed to Initiated Measure 15, but he said he doesn’t plan to campaign against it.

“I think we should increase our state revenues though increased economic activity and not through increasing tax rates,” he said.

Among the groups opposing 15 are the South Dakota Retailers, South Dakota Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Businesses of South Dakota.

REFERRED LAW 16: This is probably the most controversial issue on the ballot. If the voters approve, it will be the most extensive reform measure ever to hit teaching/education in South Dakota.

It will bring in incentive pay and teacher rankings and it will eventually eliminate teacher tenure, or what is now called teachers’ continuing contract rights.

Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, which supports Initiated Measure 15 but is not involved in this one, said, “the impact could be tremendous.”

The educators from pretty much across the state are very much opposed to this initiated measure. Such “reform” has never been done before, at least to this scale. However administrators and school boards are pretty much divided on this one.

The passed legislative bill, which was supported by the Governor, was then referred to the voters by the state’s teachers and the South Dakota Education Association.

A reminder

Of all the talk lately about our nation’s economic woes I was reminded what Alexander Tyler, a Scottish professor at the University of Edinburgh, wrote back in 1887. He had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years ago:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.

“The average age of a civilization from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From great courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back to bondage.”

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it.

Let’s dance

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Vivian dance hall being inducted into the South Dakota Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. The other day I read about the Vivian High School alumni sponsoring a rock n’ roll reunion dance in the hall. What a great idea! I hope they had as much fun there as we did B.R.N.R. (before rock n’ roll) came around….

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Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion, retiring 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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  • charliewalksonwater

    schools get plenty of money as it is. Change to vouchers, and watch how fast public schools improve.

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