Legislative PlatformIn order to determine its legislative platform, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce surveys its members about issues affecting business. The survey results, staff research and direction from the Chamber's Issues Management Council help decide the direction the Chamber will pursue when lobbying at the legislative session. Recommendations are given to the Board of Directors to approve. The 2013 Legislative Platform was approved by Issues Management Council on Dec. 6, 2012, by Executive Committee on Dec. 17, 2012, by the Board of Directors on Dec. 19, 2012.
The following is the Chamber's 2013 Legislative Platform:
The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce supports continued efforts to expand the infrastructure of the Sioux Falls area to accommodate and stimulate continuing growth of the area and to work with other communities statewide to enhance business and economic development in the South Dakota. The effort should be directed particularly for deteriorating roads and bridges around the state resulting in significant increased costs as indicated by legislative interim studies and legislative testimony.
Funding for education at all levels must be found to ensure the future of our community and state. The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce advocates well-rounded, quality education that provides individuals the chance to reach their own life goals. The Chamber strongly supports efforts to adequately fund an effective, efficient system of K-12, technical and post-secondary schools, both locally and statewide. The Chamber urges continued dialogue regarding population growth in the Sioux Falls area and the effect on regional school districts. It is important to maintain an employment environment that retains quality education to ensure future economic development and tax base.
K-12: The Chamber suggests that the legislature make every effort to fully-fund the state's K-12 formula of 3 percent or inflation, whichever is less. The Chamber also recommends that additional available funds should be used to help restore cuts to K-12 education.
REGENTAL SYSTEM: The Chamber recommends that the legislature carefully consider the Regents' highest budget priorities, which include state salary policy as well as funding for critical projects included in Gov. Daugaard's recommended FY14 budget: a new Ph.D. degree program in physics; state investment in maintenance and repair of academic buildings and infrastructure; and research initiatives in the areas of human and animal health, energy independence, and environmental sustainability.
TECHNICAL INSTITUTES: Student enrollment in the state's four technical institutes has increased significantly. In order for the technical institutes to meet the workforce demands of South Dakota, they need to have the resources to make it possible. Costs continue to rise particularly in regard to serving larger numbers of students. The Chamber believes that increasing the PSA (per student allocation) is an investment in the workforce of tomorrow and is critical for continued economic development. The Chamber is supportive of an increase in the state bonding level for technical schools in order to build a new building on the STI campus.
The Chamber believes that in order to enhance efforts to entice businesses to expand in South Dakota, funds need to be available to create funding to replace initial excise and sales taxes that will lead to the company's choice to expand and create jobs. Similarly, funds need to be available to assist in funding to replace the initial excise and sales taxes to attract new businesses and jobs to South Dakota. The Chamber recommends that a replacement (for HB 1230) be enacted to create a fund to help expanding and new companies to build and hire in South Dakota. The fund should be transparent and it should have rules that relate to number of good jobs, capital investment and length of stay in the state.
The original one penny tourism tax began in 1995. An additional half-penny was added in 2009 with a sunset of 2011, which was renewed for two years in 2011. The half-penny saved some great programs by replacing general funds that were cut. The visitor industry wanted to continue funding at the then-present level because general funds were being removed from the tourism budget. The funding saved the South Dakota Arts Council, State's Historical Research Center (vital for road construction) as well as important marketing of state tourism. Out-of-state visitors pay 77 percent of this additional tax; 100 percent of the revenue allocated from the half-penny tax allowed the Department of Tourism to fund cooperative marketing programs with entities around the state, such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Custer State Park, Hot Springs, Huron, and others through a matching dollar program. The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau have been strong advocates to retain this tax. Therefore, the Chamber recommends that the half-penny Tourism Tax be retained.