Between the Lines: Why would anyone want to live here?

The Associated Press reported this week that new data from the U.S. Census Bureau highlight South Dakota�s reputation for low taxes.

The report says South Dakota had the lowest tax collections among states last year, at $1.3 billion.

The report doesn�t state, however, how we specifically benefit from being at the very bottom in tax collections.

Maybe it�s time we do something maore about that. And I know � the no tax/low tax atmosphere in South Dakota has practically become a mantra to those at every level of government who are concerned with promoting economic development in our fair state.

But it�s time to adopt a new philosophy when it comes to trumpeting the virtues of South Dakota, at least from an economic standpoint. We should begin to loudly bang the PR drum and let everyone know our state is the perfect place to live if you are � let me put this delicately � getting up there. You know, mature. Well-seasoned.

In other words, old as dirt.

South Dakota doesn�t collect personal or corporate income taxes, and Gov. Dennis Daugaard spokesman Tony Venhuizen told the Rapid City Journal that the Census report doesn�t really come as a surprise.

Not all taxes in South Dakota are low. The report shows that taxes on gas and cigarettes are in the middle of the pack when it comes to ranking the states.

Another plus for our state. If you are old, you shouldn�t be smoking anyway. Or driving.

South Dakota is a great place to retire for many reasons. Seriously.

For someone living on Social Security, a pension, etc. � in other words, a fixed income (although haven�t most of been living in recent years with an income that�s fixed?) our state has a very attractive tax structure. The cost of living, thankfully, is low. Especially if you don�t smoke and drive a car.

Of course, there are some things in South Dakota that we tend not to talk about.

Low taxes combined with budget cuts won�t build schools, or finance any other public good. Here in Vermillion, we�ve had to opt-out of the state property tax freeze twice to scrape enough money together to fund our school district adequately. But the state keeps cutting education funding, so our school district is looking at trying to balance next year�s budget with hundreds of thousands of fewer dollars coming from Pierre.

Our county commission has to scramble every year to try to scrape up the money it needs for road maintenance and repair. It tried to enact a wheel tax a few years ago, an attempt to fairly and reasonably have vehicle owners pay a small amount to the county each year.

That small amount, in turn, would get invested in road and bridge building and maintenance. The result would likely be smoother roads, greater traffic safety, and perhaps the reopening of one of at least half a dozen bridges in Clay County that reportedly are currently closed because of safety issues.

But we voted it down. Something that you, prospective future South Dakotan of retirement age who doesn�t smoke and only drives to church and to coffee downtown, will find just wonderful as you settle in here.

That�s what so great about touting South Dakota as a retirement state. Your kids are grown, and likely living out-of-state � someplace that actually attempts, on an annual basis, to adequately fund education.

And when you make a longer trip in your car, it�s to visit them instead of traveling much in South Dakota.

It�s a win-win situation.

Cuts to education funding in South Dakota? What do you care? Your kids are grown.

The failure of an attempt at small government investment in the local infrastructure? No problem. Don�t really need to get out that much.

Beautiful South Dakota. The perfect place to live out your golden years in a quiet, non-progressive, quiet atmosphere.

A place where you never have to yell at the neighbors� children to get off of your lawn. Because your neighbors, attracted by South Dakota�s low taxes, are just like you.

Old. With no kids.

Why would anyone NOT want to live here??

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