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SD Voters Face Spending Decisions In 2012

November 30, 2011, 5:13 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SD Voters Face Spending Decisions In 2012
SIOUX FALLS, SD - South Dakota voters will decide how to spend tax money in 2012.

Two different measures will be on the ballot that deal with state revenues and helping schools, Medicaid providers and other state programs.

Moving South Dakota Forward wants an extra penny sales tax to give more money to state school districts and Medicaid providers exclusively.

Earlier this year, the South Dakota Democratic Party was successful in getting their issue on the 2012 ballot. They want to redirect money from the governor's newly created large project fund, which they say would free up money for schools and other state programs.

"It comes down to how do we divide up the pie, and should we make that pie bigger. Two separate issues," South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf said.

Nesselhuf doesn't think the two efforts to find more money for the state will compete for votes. The issue his party got on the ballot would simply take the millions of dollars set aside for a new large project fund supported by the governor and move it to the state's general fund.

"The conversation is we're taking money out of the general fund. Money that could otherwise go to education and health care, but it's also money that can go to everything else; roads and bridges, state employees, anything state government pays for," Nesselhuf said.

Andy Wiese works for Moving South Dakota Forward. Their measure was just approved for the ballot and would raise sales tax by an extra penny, but that money would specifically go to school districts and Medicaid providers.

"Their (the Democrats) measure deals with revenue that already exists. What Moving South Dakota Forward is doing is creating an additional dedicated revenue source for K-12 public education and Medicaid," Wiese said.

And organizers say the fact that both issues will be on the 2012 ballot shows that South Dakotans are interested in the direction of the state budget.

"It shows me that people are paying attention to revenue in South Dakota, and they are paying attention to K-12 public education and Medicaid funding," Wiese said.

"I think it's a testament to the fact that people want a say in how Pierre operates and not only how taxes are raised, but how our meager resources are spent," Nesselhuf said.

The redirected money from the large project fund would be about $16 million a year for the general fund.

The extra sales tax would raise about $175 million a year.

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