Video lottery: Little action in 1999

Video lottery: Little action in 1999 By Susan Smith and Jaimi Reimer Video lottery may be one of the main topics of conversation this legislative session but three legislative leaders don't see much action being taken unless a plan to replace the revenue video gambling generates is found.

"I think there's going to be a lot of conversation about video lottery," House Minority Leader Pat Haley, D-Huron said. "I don't expect much to change, however."

Haley said he doesn't think a replacement tax will pass the Legislature.

"It's a lot of money," Haley said. "I think the state would have a hard time operating without it."

Video lottery annually generates $92 million for South Dakota's budget.

"I don't see a lot happening until someone comes up with an alternative revenue source," Senate Majority Leader Mike Rounds, D-Pierre said.

House Speaker Scott Eccarius, R-Rapid City echoed Rounds statement. He said while none of the members of the House leadership would probably say they were in favor of video lottery, he doesn't think the two-thirds majority of votes is there to designate another revenue source.

"I don't think the votes are there to plug the hole," he said. "It's a very volatile issue."

Property tax may also become an issue for lawmakers, Eccarius said. Putting a 3-percent cap on property tax assessment was introduced as one of the last bills during the 1998 session and didn't get much attention as a result.

He said many South Dakotans don't benefit from property sales in their neighborhoods that cause a blanket increase in property tax assessments. The ag community is also suffering from a property tax burden that isn't matched in profits, Eccarius said.

Health care and education will also see some discussion during the session, the legislators said.

Haley said he thinks education standards and funding are going to be important issues for the House.

A proposal that would provide a 1.8 percent increase in the education formula did not receive much support from Rounds.

"If they want more money, they'll have to find another revenue source," he said.

In the issue of health care, Haley said he'd like to see a patient bill of health for managed care customers. An alternative insurance plan for people who can't purchase insurance any other way may also be an issue for the 1999 session, Haley said.

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