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Column: Prioritizing the Human Economy

South Dakota Capitol Building
J. Stephen Conn, Flickr

PIERRE – Governor Daugaard and a bipartisan group of state legislators in both the house and senate deserve credit for doing the right thing. The most recent version of the economic development bill now includes a trigger mechanism that would only allow the revenue from the contractor’s excise tax to be spent on development projects if the budget also allows for the normal increases to education, Medicaid and state salaries.

The proposal would allow millions of dollars each year into the Building South Dakota fund, which would help finance the noble goals of infrastructure, career education and affordable housing projects. While new investments along these lines make good economic sense, they all represent medium to long term projects which should rightly be shelved during a state budget crisis.

In contrast, the damage created by underfunding education, Medicaid and paying the salaries of state employees has an almost immediate impact. Layoffs or pay reductions would only serve to compound the problems of a slow or contracting economy that most likely caused the state budget concerns in the first place.

It is admirable to see the Governor and legislators from both parties setting up sound policy that will prioritize human beings in the lean times and hopefully prevent more damaging cuts like those from two years ago. Why can’t they be this sensible more often?

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

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