On Tuesday you'll be asked to cast your vote on four constitutional amendments, one initiated measure, and two referred laws. Monday morning we are taking a look at what a "yes" or "no" vote means on these issues.
Constitutional Amendment M is an Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution regarding certain provisions relating to corporations. The Constitution currently contains certain restrictions on the Legislature's authority to enact laws regarding corporations. Constitutional Amendment M removes these restrictions, and allows the Legislature to: (1) authorize alternative methods of voting in elections for corporate directors; (2) expand the types of contributions a corporation may receive for the issuance of stock or bonds; and (3) establish procedures governing the increase of corporate stock or debt. A vote "Yes" will remove the constitutional restrictions. A vote "No" will leave the Constitution as it is.
Constitutional Amendment N is an Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution repealing certain reimbursement restrictions for travel by legislators to and from a legislative session. The Constitution fixes the mileage reimbursement rate for legislators at five cents per mile for their travel to and from a legislative session. Constitutional Amendment N repeals this constitutional limitation and allows legislator travel reimbursement to be set by the Legislature. Supporters of this Amendment say the current reimbursement rate has been a part of the constitution since the 19th century and it was incorporated into the constitution before cars were invented. A vote "Yes" will eliminate the fixed travel reimbursement rate. A vote "No" will leave the Constitution as it is.
Constitutional Amendment O is an Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution changing the method for distributions from the cement plant trust fund. In 2001, the $238 million in proceeds from the sale of the state cement plant were placed in a constitutionally created trust fund. Currently, the Constitution requires a yearly transfer of $12 million from the cement plant trust fund to the state general fund. In addition, under certain circumstances the Legislature must authorize distributions of cement plant trust fund earnings for the support of education. Amendment O replaces the existing method for cement trust fund distributions. The amendment would require a yearly transfer of 4% of the market value of the cement plant trust fund to the state general fund for the support of education. A vote "Yes" is for changing the method for distributions from the cement plant trust fund. A vote "No" will leave the constitution as it is.
Constitutional Amendment P is an Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution adding balanced budget requirements.While the constitution currently restricts the State from incurring debt, it does not expressly require the State to have a balanced budget. Amendment P requires the Governor to propose a balanced budget. In addition, Amendment P prohibits legislative appropriations from exceeding anticipated revenues and existing available funds. The amendment is not intended to affect other constitutional provisions. A vote "Yes" will include balanced budget requirements in the Constitution. A vote "No" will leave the Constitution as it is.
Referred Law 14 is an Act to establish the Large Project Development Fund. The referred law establishes the "Large Project Development Fund." Beginning January 1st, 2013, 22% of contractors' excise tax revenues would be transferred from the state general fund to the Large Project Development Fund. The South Dakota Board of Economic Development would use Large Project Development Fund monies to provide grants for the construction of large economic development projects within the state. To be eligible, a project must have a cost exceeding $5 million. Supporters say this incentive program behind Referred Law 14 will be the most effective way to achieve goals such as high paying jobs with benefits, community growth, and an increasing tax base that provides permanent funding to schools. They say being For 14 is being for economic development. Those opposed say Referred Law 14 expands a broken program at nearly triple the cost without any accountability. They say the Large Project Development Fund expands the old construction tax refund program that the state legislature repealed after a public records request by five newspapers revealed that the program was granting secret refunds at much higher cost to companies like TransCanada that would have come here anyway. A vote "Yes" is for the establishment of the Large Project Development Fund. A vote "No" is against the referred law.
Referred Law 16 is an education reform act with five key components. First, it would create scholarship programs for eligible college students who commit to teach in SD in certain subject areas. Second, there would be yearly bonuses for eligible math and science teachers. Third, it would provide yearly state-funded merit bonuses that would be awarded by the school board. Some boards could opt-out. Fourth, it would evaluate teachers and principals through a rating system. Lastly, it would eliminate tenure for teachers. Those opposed to Referred Law 16 say it is a significant expansion of state government resulting in standardization of programs,shifting control over our children's education from our local school boards and administrators to Pierre's politicians.Those in favor of Referred Law 16 say it is a commitment by the State of South Dakota to put $15 million, every year, into teachers and teaching students. They say the goal of our school system is to increase student achievement. Referred Law 16 is based on the simple idea that great teachers are the key to great results for our students. A vote "Yes" is to enact the education reform act. A vote "No" is against the referred law.
Initiated Measure 15 is an initiated measure to increase state general sales and use taxes for additional K-12 public education and Medicaid funding. The initiated measure increases the state general sales and use tax rate from 4% to 5%. The additional tax revenue will be split evenly between K-12 public education and Medicaid. The education funds will be provided to school districts based on enrollment, to be spent on improving education as school boards determine. The Medicaid funds will be spent only on payments to Medicaid providers and related state expenses. Supports of the measure say a quality education system and access to basic medical care are the building blocks of a successful, thriving state. They say in 2011, funding for these essential programs was dramatically cut. They say we should not balance the state budget on the backs of school children and at-risk citizens in need of basic medical care. Those against the measure say as the state ends its fiscal year with $48 million in unexpected revenues and savings, now is not the time to permanently increase the state sales tax rate by 25% and force taxpayers to pay an additional $180 million per year in taxes. A vote "Yes" is for the proposed law. A vote "No" is against the proposed law.