Of all the bills he could have and should have vetoed, Governor Dennis Daugaard yesterday chose to veto three tax cuts. They were niggly favors for special interests—landlords, electric utilities, and VFW baseball coaches—but they were all essentially tax cuts, and Governor Daugaard vetoed all three on the argument that they would erode the tax base.
These three vetoes kind of bust up our usual partisan categories. A good Republican governor rejects tax breaks, some of them backed by bigger business interests like the home builders and the Chamber of Commerce. That’s the kind of fiscal responsibility our Republican friends don’t emphasize on the campaign trail.
The Governor’s vetoes do create an interesting strategic opportunity for legislators who are running again. They could come back on veto day, March 30, and override these vetoes. They could say to voters, “That mean old Governor tried to deny you tax breaks, but we set him straight! We’re fighting for your pocketbook!” Governor Daugaard could take three hits for the team, fade into the background, and let his Republican legislators take center stage with the tax-cutting avidity.
Might that opportunity entice enough legislators to rally behind these vetoed bills? Or is loving unity and leader worship still too important to GOP fortunes to allow them to rise up against the governor, even for the sake of tax breaks?