Dist. 25 candidates speak in Brandon
October 23. 2012 4:15PM
Five District 25 legislative candidates squared off Oct. 26 in a forum jointly sponsored by the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, Brandon Valley Challenger and Sunny Radio.
Seeking election to represent District 25 in the Senate are incumbent Tim Rave (R-Dell Rapids) and challenger Dan Ahlers (D-Dell Rapids). Three candidates for the House of Representatives are incumbent Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), Scott Ecklund (R-Brandon) and Bill Laird (D-Sioux Falls). Democratic candidate Janelle Smedsrud did not attend Tuesday’s forum.
Here are their views on some of the upcoming ballot issues.
Initiated Measure 15
Laird is the only candidate who supports Initiated Measure 15, which, if passed, would increase the state general sales and use taxes to generate additional funding for K-12 public education and Medicaid.
Laird said the anticipated $18 million in added revenue would be split between the two entities.
“If it passes, it makes sure the legislature hangs on to it for health and education and doesn’t get detoured into the general fund,” he said.
Ahlers said the measure is a “short-term solution to a long-term problem.”
He said the problem comes with sales tax that’s not being collected on Internet sales. “We can solve this problem by going after this issue,” he said.
Hansen, who does not favor raising people’s taxes, won’t support the measure simply for that reason, especially until the sales on food tax is repealed.
Ecklund, who favors plugging more money into education and healthcare, said he will not support the tax measure. “I like the money, but I don’t like the tax,” he said. “It’s an aggressive tax that disproportionate to the poor.”
All five candidates are supportive of the amendment, which regards certain provisions relating to corporations.
“It’s been on the ballot before,” Rave said, “but people don’t support it because they don’t get it. Adds Ecklund, “It moves some of the old archaic restrictions out of the way that allows business to move along in a more timely fashion.”
This amendment, if approved, would change the method for distribution from the state’s cement plant trust fund. In better economic times, Rave said $12 million was taken from the fund each year. Approval of the amendment would allow legislators to use whatever interest is gained without using any of the principal of the fund.
All five candidates agreed the state should operate on a balanced budget, which this amendment, if passed, will regulate.
“We can’t spend more than we take in,” Hansen said.
Referred Law 14
If approved, Referred Law 14 would establish a fund to give incentives to potential large economic projects.
Every year, 22 percent of the state’s contractor’s excise tax, or $17 million, would be put into a large project development fund. The state Board of Economic Development could make grants from that fund to business projects to encourage those businesses to come to South Dakota or expand.
Hansen, Ecklund and Rave support Referred Law 14, while Laird and Ahlers oppose it.