Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias Please note. The portions of this column written in verse form are to be sung to the popular Paul Simon song Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.

Our state's problems seem pretty obvious to me

We'll fix many of them if we take things logically

The tobacco settlement can help South Dakota fund projects tax free

There must be 50 ways to spend the money

The governor said, "People will think I will intrude

I hope my suggestions won't be lost or misconstrued

So I repeat myself, at the risk of being crude

There must be 50 ways to spend the money

50 ways to spend the money

We'll find good places for it all, Paul

Brohm Mine we will fill, Jill

The Dome roof we'll fix Felix

Just listen to me

Spend some on health care, Mary

Boost public radio's frequency

Upgrade the state's technology, Lee

And do it all tax free."

Lawmakers said, "It grieves me to see my constituents disagree

I wish there was something I could do to make them see

We want to allocate the funds the best we can, so, Guv, would you please explain about the 50 ways? "

He said, "Let the State Affairs committee debate and fight

Perhaps, eventually, they'll begin to see the light

But who can predict if what the committee does will be right?

There must be 50 ways to spend the money

We'll find good places for it all, Paul

Brohm Mine we will fill, Jill

The Dome roof we'll fix Felix

Just listen to me

Spend some on health care, Mary

Boost public radio's frequency

Upgrade the state's technology, Lee

And do it all tax free."

Before I go any further, I deeply apologize to Paul Simon for murdering his song, and to our readers for forcing them to try to mentally "sing" the above lyrics to his famous tune.

South Dakota is trying to figure out how to spend its first $28 million tobacco settlement installment.

Gov. Bill Janklow's plan includes:


* $8 million to clean up the Brohm mine in the Black

Hills;


* $5.7 million deposited into a trust fund;


* $5 million to help fix the DakotaDome at USD;


* $4 million to upgrade state radio;


* $3 million to pay for a digital conversion of South

Dakota Public Broadcasting technology;


* $1.5 million to help families who have been struck by neuromuscular diseases, such as Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy; and,


* $1 million for smoking prevention.

South Dakota and more than 40 other states reached a settlement with tobacco companies last year that could bring the state approximately $700 million over 25 years. The state is expected to receive about $28 million this year.

A valid question has been asked, however. How reliable will those funds be? Many people, including Janklow, have predicted that tobacco companies will probably go bankrupt.

We don't blame the governor and lawmakers to be tempted to spend a good portion of the first tobacco payment on several areas of the state that need to be fixed.

For the long term, however, it may be better to forget about using the funds for the DakotaDome roof and a long laundry list of other projects.

The public will better benefit if the funds are allowed to grow in a trust fund. The state could then spend the interest off that amount.

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