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Noem touts South Dakota's light tax burden in annual address

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. (KOTA TV)
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. (KOTA TV)(KOTA)
Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 2:23 PM MST
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Gov. Kristi Noem’s state of the state address to the 2020 Legislature might have been aimed more at out-of-state business owners than South Dakota’s lawmakers.

That could be the fact that Noem says, this year, she wants to be aggressive in recruiting companies to South Dakota.

Noem began her annual address by focusing on South Dakota’s tax structure; no personal or corporate income tax; no business inventory tax; no personal property tax or inheritance tax.

“The taxes that we do have to fund state government are stable and predictable,” the governor stated. “In addition to my commitment to not raising taxes, our constitution requires a two-third vote in both chambers to raise taxes. In short, if you’re worried about tax increases, you needn’t be – your business is safe here.

“Government in South Dakota lives within its means. We balance our budget without accounting gimmicks or tricks,” she claimed.

“I'm proud of our AAA credit rating, and our state pension plan is fully funded. That means businesses that move here don't need to worry about surprise charges, fees, or taxes to make up for an unfunded pension plan like our neighbors in Illinois.

“In South Dakota, we believe in smart regulation. We roll out the red carpet, not the red tape,” the governor said.

Noem believes getting the entire state connected via broadband will help generate revenue. She says the state’s $5 million investment has resulted in better internet for thousands of homes and nearly 150 businesses in underserved areas.

“While $5 million didn’t fix our broadband gap overnight, it was a very strong start. More needs to be done. My hope is that we can continue to work together this legislative session to address more of our high-speed internet needs,” Noem said.

The governor hinted that the state may be able to provide public schools and state employees with “on-going money” because revenues have been “slightly better than expected.”

Of course, there is a caveat according to Noem.

“In order to do this for many years to come, we must work together to find ways to grow our state’s economy,” she warned. “With our eyes fixed to the future, we can ensure that every South Dakotan can build their life here, get good jobs, make a living and support their families.”

Then there is the “gorilla in the room” … hemp.

The governor is adamant that there must be reliable enforcement guidelines to any law involving the production of industrial hemp. Regulations, she added, must be responsible regarding licensing, reporting and inspections of hemp. These requirements, the governor believes, will cost the state about $3.5 million “and there must be a plan to pay for it,” she stressed.

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