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State Parks Revenue Defying Overall Economic Lag

The real positive news from Game, Fish, & Parks is that our state parks are outperforming sales tax revenues and the general economy. The agenda packet for yesterday’s GF&P Commission meeting included this summary of the Division of Parks and Recreation’s November year-to-date revenue:

Game Fish & Parks Commission, agenda item, 2017.12.14.
Game Fish & Parks Commission, agenda item, 2017.12.14.

Parks permit revenue is up 5% over last year; parks lodging revenue is up 4%. The total take so far is $17.1 million, up 4% over last year.

According to the Governor’s budget address last week, year-to-date sales tax collections were down 1.6% at the end of FY2017; in October, sales tax revenues were up only 2.3%.

So our general economy is dragging, which the Governor attributes in part to the sagging agricultural economy, while the state’s portion of our tourism industry is bringing in more revenue. Could that suggest that, exactly contrary to Speaker G. Mark Mickelson’s self-interested assertions, there are other paths to rural economic development than promoting industrial agriculture?


  1. Jenny 2017-12-15 11:07

    Just remember South Dakota, MN (skol Vikes!) is watching closely on any anti-transgender potty measures that could pass or any referendum that the state could vote on in the future. We WILL boycott if the South Dakota chooses discrimination. (All that lost tourism money would not be good at all).

  2. John 2017-12-15 20:45

    The lame duck governor and his over-the-hill legislators are victims of their age – trapped in the past. The State’s “pick winners” sales tax (ag, advertisers, truckers, etc.) is a dying approach because there is a generational, cultural shift in values of the millennials. It’s far more than the Amazon effect. Millennials value experiences far over sport-recreational or therapeutic shopping.
    Millennials view the frustration of their parents in getting rid of their grandparents massive, frivolous, depression-induced collections of junk – and want no part of the collections or accumulations or having to store or get rid of it.
    Millennials would rather go the state parks than the Empire Mall.
    It’s long past the time to either level the sales tax – or – change the State’s tax structure. McFly, wake up.

    And stop wasting State funds on TV ads. They are only watched in assisted living facilities and by old sarges, but I repeat myself.
    Scroll down to the chart: change in time watching traditional TV by age group –
    Netflix users avoid over 160 hour of commercials / year – that’s a month of eight hour work days. Google it yourself.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-17 08:55

    John, you say some remarkable things.

    Leaping out at me is your observation on recreation: “Millennials would rather go the state parks than the Empire Mall.” That totally fits with the numbers we’re seeing in parks revenue and sales tax. I hope the state doesn’t respond to that by saying, “Great! Then let’s double the park entrance fees!” Instead, they should look at the economic development that could be built around such growing interest in outdoor recreation. Shut down Mickelson and his self-interested nothing-but-CAFOs talk and encourage more environmental protection and that keeps those outdoor destinations attractive.

    TV ads—Yes! Why bother? I feel the difference between zooming straight through an uninterrupted episode of Agents of SHIELD on Netflix and a commercial-laden episode on Hulu (not to mention the disruption of the narrative intensity!). Even when those interruptions come on, I turn right to my phone to look up character details from the Marvel wiki.

    Accumulating junk—interesting! Are millennials really collecting less stuff? I’m not a millennial, but I look around my office, and most of the stuff I see consists of books acquired in the 1990s. I wonder: has my own material acquisitiveness changed in my lifetime?

    If we are going to spend more of our money on experiences than on things, then a state determined to tax consumption instead of income will have to shift to capturing money spent on experiences. And if South Dakota doesn’t offer cool experiences, South Dakota will lose tax revenue.

  4. mike from iowa 2017-12-17 09:51

    Maybe wingnuts finally woke up to the fact the nature, as nature intended to be, is in dire threat of extinction with freaking morons like Drumpf in charge. The big push started back with the “Sagebrush Rebellion” under D- level actor Raygun and ever since wingnuts have put in charge of the EPA and BLM korporate dimdots and anti-environmental extremists.

    Wouldn’t Rushmore look better as a strip mall/casino?

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