Thursday, January 29, 2009

Statehouse Alert, Jan 29


An e-newsletter of the South Dakota Democratic Party sent to you because it's time to bring change to Pierre. Date: January 27, 2009


Heidepriem takes Rounds to task over cooked state tourism stats

So far, only the Mitchell Daily Republic is reporting the biggest bombshell in Pierre since Gov. Mike Rounds' disastrous do-over budget. The Republic's Seth Tupper reported that Rounds was giving wrong information when he crowed last week that visitor spending in South Dakota increased by 2.8 percent in 2008, compared to 2007. Rounds' press release failed to mention that the report said tourism receipts were worse than 2007 when adjusted for inflation, which had jumped to 5.3 percent.

FROM THE DAILY REPUBLIC -- "The study upon which the announcement was based contained other information that was not as positive and was not mentioned in the announcement. For example: When adjusted for inflation, visitor spending actually decreased by 2.5 percent; the number of tourism-related jobs in the state fell by 901; and the amount of state sales-tax collections arising from vacation travelers fell by $500,000. None of that was mentioned in state Office of Tourism's announcement, which was sent to media outlets in the form of a press release titled '2008 Tourism Revenue Sets Record at $967 Million.'"

In a separate MDR news story Wednesday, Sen. Scott Heidepriem, Democratic Senate Leader, called Rounds' report "misinformation," adding, "They're misleading the public, and they're doing it deliberately." Heidepriem and others have been highly critical of the cozy relationship between Rounds and companies getting no-bid contracts, one of which is Lawrence & Schiller which gets an annual $7 million no-bid contract from the state tourism department.

Rounds was quoted in the tourism department press release as saying tourism receipts had hit a record, despite gas running up to $4 per gallon. However, the study (pdf document) put the numbers into perspective, noting "much of the increased overall spending by visitors in 2008 is traced to increased fuel costs."

Heidepriem said the bogus interpretation of the study further clouds public trust in the governor's office as to whether the public is being given factual information about state government and the economy: "The essential question in a time like this is 'what is a necessary service of state government, and is the proper allocation to short education and infants and the deaf and the elderly and favor the tourism advertising budget, knowing that the results are at best questionable?"

Jan. 27 Daily Republic article on cooked tourism data:
Jan. 28 Daily Republic article on Heidepriem's response:§ion=news
Official 2008 Economic & Fiscal Impact Study
State Tourism press release which selectively quotes the study:

Rumors increase that Rounds is gathering hostages for sales tax hike

In the State Capitol and among groups targeted for cuts is word that Governor Mike Rounds is lining up budget hostages to force legislators to approve a 25 percent increase in the state sales tax.

"He really couldn't be more obvious lining up sacred cows for slaughter than this," one lobbyist said, asking to remain anonymous. "Rodeo clowns would be taxed. He's cutting aid to sparse school districts, aid to growing school districts, Medicaid, elderly programs, HPV vaccinations, infant and early childhood -- anything except the Highway Patrol because Gene Abdallah kicked his butt on that one.

"It's a very ugly list, so you know it's got to lead to something else, and we're hearing it's a big sales tax increase."

Using budget hostages has had mixed results for governors. Governor George Mickelson lined up about $7 million of budget sacred cows (including pheasant restoration and funds for veterans) to coerce the state legislature to create video lottery, which found the governor spending its revenues before video lottery existed. The tactic worked when the rules were changed to pass the budget items and video lottery on a simple majority. However, the tactic backfired in 1991 when Mickelson tried to increase the state sales tax and Democrats refused to support it. It set the stage for Democrats winning a state senate majority in the 1992 election.

- By Amanda Mattingly, SDDP Field Organizer

Hundreds of volunteers who found a new sense of activism in the 2008 Presidential Primary and general election are considering a new role in the South Dakota Democratic Party as precinct committee leaders and county party leaders. In Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Pierre, Brookings and other communities, people who worked on primary and general election campaigns to elect a Democratic president now want to work with other grassroots volunteers to bring change to Pierre.

Obama volunteers and Minnehaha County Democratic Party leaders are starting a recruitment drive to encourage volunteers to become precinct committee women and committee men before the county party elections are held in April. The precinct leaders and county party leaders are the only people eligible to vote for county party officers during April of each odd numbered year, according to the SDDP constitution. The county party positions which will be elected in April are Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, State Central Committeeman and State Central Committeewoman to serve two-year terms. The goal in Minnehaha County is to fill all the precinct leader positions by March so that they can participate in the April election.

Democratic activists in other counties hope to capture the surge in activism created during the 2008 election, which also saw Democratic Party registrations jump up by more than 13,500 new Democrats in the state. They see the chaos in Pierre over Gov. Mike Rounds' do-over budget and scandals involving no-bid contracts, inappropriate government secrecy and the abuse of power as signs that one-party rule has outlived its welcome with voters.

Becoming a precinct leader is fundamental to the success of the South Dakota Democratic Party. The position is critical to the success of legislative and courthouse candidates, and to our hopes of winning the Governor's election in 2010. It also has its perks. Precinct leaders vote in county party meetings, and they also become automatic delegates to the South Dakota Democratic Party State Convention, which will be in Sioux Falls in June 2010. For more information, contact the SDDP office at 605-271-5405, or send me an email at

The South Dakota Democratic Party provides professional staff and some of the best consultant support to our Democratic legislators. This newsletter is being sent to you to keep you informed of key issues and major developments in Pierre until April 1, 2009.

By making a difference for the Democratic Party, you will help us and our legislators make a difference for South Dakota. Make your contribution online with ActBlue:

Or mail your check to SDDP, P.O. Box 1485, Sioux Falls, SD 57101.

Paid for by South Dakota Democratic Party, P.O. Box 1485, Sioux Falls, SD 57101; Bill Nibbelink, Treasurer. Political contributions are not tax-deductible as a charitable contribution for Federal income tax purposes.

1 comment:

  1. My state no-bid contract says that as a citizen I can be screwed every day without fact I have to pay.