Legislators discuss state budget, revenue sources

Legislators discuss state budget, revenue sources By David Liasâ�?¨
Plain Talkâ�?¨ District 17 lawmakers Sen. Ben Nesselhuf and Rep. Jamie Boomgarden wereâ�?¨ told by local citizens Saturday to avoid approving some of the newâ�?¨ fees and proposed cuts of some programs currently beingâ�?¨ considered by the Legislature to shore up a shortfall in the state'sâ�?¨ general fund.â�?¨ The two lawmakers appeared at a cracker barrel meeting Saturday morning in the William J. Radigan Fire and EMS Center in Vermillion. "There is a bill of all things to tax photocopies made at publicâ�?¨ libraries," Joe Edelen told the lawmakers. "That bill came up onceâ�?¨ about 25 year ago and it was defeated. I would urge both of you toâ�?¨ work against that because the amount of money that would be raised byâ�?¨ such a bill would be so inconsequential compared to the time and moneyâ�?¨ it would take to manipulate and keep track of all of the copies thatâ�?¨ are made."â�?¨ Boomgarden said measures such as minor taxes and fees on stateâ�?¨ services likely will be tucked into a more substantial omnibus billâ�?¨ near the end of the legislative session. This year, he said, it seemsâ�?¨ that nothing is off limits s lawmakers consider ways to raise stateâ�?¨ revenue.â�?¨ "They're even going after rodeo clowns; that's how crazy it isâ�?¨ getting," he said. "Umpires â�?�? they want a sales tax on their services. Storage units, the list goes on and on, and these were things that were exempt from taxes in the past."â�?¨ Nesselhuf said he would support a sales tax on advertising as a way toâ�?¨ raise revenue for the general fund.â�?¨ "There's a bill up this year to do that, and that's something I'veâ�?¨ always supported," he said. "I don't understand why it's exempted. Iâ�?¨ don't know if it has any legs this year."â�?¨ Nesselhuf said there have been bills introduced in the past to taxâ�?¨ only political advertising. That, he said, is unconstitutional,â�?¨ "because you can't say you're going to tax one type of advertising andâ�?¨ not another."â�?¨ Nesselhuff said he wouldn't support an increase in the state salesâ�?¨ tax. "Because of the way the governor is handling education formulaâ�?¨ this year, his plan will see about a $6 million increase in propertyâ�?¨ taxes, which I don't support. I think because of our economicâ�?¨ situation, tax increases aren't the best way to go."â�?¨â�?¨ The lawmakers were told that much of the state's financial headachesâ�?¨ would be relieved if Washington would accomplish the streamliningâ�?¨ process on Internet sales. Currently, purchases of goods over theâ�?¨ Internet aren't taxed, and it is estimated that South Dakota could receiveâ�?¨ from $60 million to $90 million in taxes from Internet sales.â�?¨â�?¨â�?¨ "There seems to be a fundamental flaw in our budgeting system," saidâ�?¨ Steve Howe, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber ofâ�?¨ Commerce and Development Company. He noted that the federal stimulus â�?¨package may be the state' s "saving grace" budget-wise for next year orâ�?¨t wo.â�?¨â�?¨ "But what happens after that?" he asked. "What is your long-term visionâ�?¨ for correcting our budget issues for the next generation?"â�?¨â�?¨ Boomgarden said spending "one-time" money will only be enough for theâ�?¨ state to meet its budget needs for the next year. "But we are stillâ�?¨ going to need money for future years. That's why the cuts are importantâ�?¨ now, and to supplement that with some of the budget reserves so that inâ�?¨ the future years we don't have as much debt to pay off if this goesâ�?¨ on for two, three or four years," he said.â�?¨

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