The South Dakota Legislature has passed Senate Bill 1, the road bill. I have yet to see a written copy of the final version of the bill; however, I am told the final dollar figure for SB 1 is about $85 million more in new revenue to fix our roads and bridges. SB 1 includes the following major points:
- The gasoline tax will go up six cents this year (instead of the gradual two-cent-a-year increases in earlier versions of the bill). That increase accounts for $39.5 million of that new annual revenue.
- License plates go up 20%. Regular car drivers, your fees go up from $30 to $36.
- Counties will be allowed to raise an extra property tax levy to fund road and bridge repairs. Counties with less than $1 billion on property valuation will have a maximum additional road levy of $1.20/mil. Counties with $1 billion to $2 billion in valuation will have a $0.90/mil maximum levy. Counties with more than $2 billion in valuation may levy no more than $0.60/mil. (The richer your county, the less you may tax—we may have just defined regressive tax.)
- The 80 mile-per-hour speed limit will take effect on the Interstates. It will tear up the roads faster and cost a few lives, but it will enhance revenue by encouraging us to burn up our gasoline faster.
- Senate Bill 1 declares an emergency, meaning your gas prices go up April 1.
With the added emergency clause, not to mention tax increases, SB 1 needed a two-thirds vote. The Senate passed SB 1 on a 25–9 vote. The House passed it 55–11. Perhaps worth noting: nine Democrats out of eleven present voted for SB 1. Had they wanted to make mischief, they could have voted in bloc against SB 1.
Rep. Thomas Brunner (R-29/Nisland) led off House debate arguing to send SB1 back to committee. After passage, Rep. Brunner said this tax increase is the biggest disappointment of the session:
At this writing (18:50 CDT), the Legislature’s work is not quite done. House Bill 1208, the general appropriations bill, awaits final action from the Appropriations Committee and debate and votes in both chambers.
Update 2015.03.14 21:22: I have updated the summary to include the 20% increase in license plate fees. I also misstated the emergency start date. SB 1 and its tax/fee increases take effect April 1.