I think the South Dakota Retailers Association (of which I'm a dues-paying member in good standing) is nuts to be putting up such a spirited fight against Initiated Measure 18. It's the ballot issue that will immediately raise the minimum wage in South Dakota from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour and provide for annual cost of living increases every year thereafter. Along with SDRA, the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry also opposes the measure, the general argument being that being forced to raise wages for their lowest-paid employees will actually decrease employment. I think that's basically a lot of hooey. The non-partisan South Dakota Budget and Policy Institute last September did, in fact, conclude 357 South Dakotans would lose their jobs over the increase, but in a state with 450,000 workers that number is so statistically insignificant as to be meaningless.
In that same SDBPI report, the institute notes that about 1 out of 6 South Dakotans would see wage increases if IM 18 passes. That's about 17% of the workforce, or 77,000 people, and it makes me pose this question: Retailers and Cof C types, aren't you missing something? While you rail against employers being forced to raise wages from exploitative to merely sub-subsistence levels, consider that nearly 80,000 South Dakotans will be getting an extra couple of hundred bucks a month to spend in your businesses if IM 18 passes. Do the math. That's 15 million bucks a month! Who's the genius at the Retailers association that's so dead set against that? Meantime, I want to meet the SDBPI economists who thinks that sudden surge of spending is likely to result in a loss of any jobs whatsoever.
First thing I'd show them is a report last Summer from the Center For Economic Policy and Research that shows exactly the opposite. The CEPR report cites a Goldman, Sachs study showing that the 13 states that raised their minimum wages at the beginning of 2014 have experienced faster job growth rates than the 37 that haven't. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that in every one of those states that raised the minimum wage there was a cadre of doubting Thomases from the business community who insisted that job losses would occur as a result. The fact is, reality and common sense have proven them wrong.
I see in the Rapid City Journal today that the editorial board recommends a No vote on IM 18, explaining that market forces "tend to do a good job" of setting wages. I really couldn't disagree more, and I believe that the labor shortage in South Dakota contradicts the notion that market forces here have done a good job of "managing who gets paid what," as RCJ put it. Governor Daugaard himself set a tone of serious concern about our labor situation by initiating a series of "workforce summits" to address the issue in 2014. I believe if the labor market were efficient in South Dakota, that chronic worker shortages wouldn't be the bane of economic growth in this state.
This is a situation where voters can indeed kick start the state into a realm of competitive wages, because the organizational stasis evidenced by South Dakota's leading business organizations won't get us to budge off our low-wage, low-job numbers dime. The trees of marginal cost increases created by higher wages are blinding opponents to the forest of a surging economy. IM 18 puts more spending cash into the hands of the very people who are responsible for the strength of our economy in the first place.
South Dakota is in the national news this political season as the race is heating up for retiring Tim Johnson’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
Once a shoe-in for Republicans, the race has tightened as South Dakotans take a long look at the Republican candidate, Mike Rounds, and his involvement in the EB5 program and the failed beef processing plant in Aberdeen.
The investigation is long and involved, but if South Dakotans are interested in what kind of a man they plan on casting their vote for in November, it would behoove them to pay attention to what is going on with this incident.
I have never held back when it comes to Mike Rounds and have expressed concern about his politics, his sense of entitlement and his dishonesty in the past. His attitude toward those who disagreed with him while he was governor was appalling. He acted like a spoiled child who was raised to believe that he was the golden child and those who would question him needed to be put in their place.
Rounds has skirted the EB5 issue as he has always danced around when being pushed in a corner.
He denied knowing about or ever seeing the subpoena that was delivered to his office concerning the Darley lawsuit. Then he said it wasn’t a subpoena, but simply a notice of arbitration. It was not an arbitration notice. It was notice of a new lawsuit demanding the state’s appearance in court.
He made a false statement to the legislative committee in his answers concerning the subpoena, and then backtracked and asked if he could change his answer once it was proved the legal papers had been served to his office.
The tougher the questions about what he knew about Joop Bollen’s finagling of the program, the louder he yells about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defeating anything the president has to offer.
In the first candidate debate, Rounds harped long and hard every chance he got to push that agenda.
His answer to every question was to avoid answering it and parroting the same mantra of taking back the Senate, repealing ACA and stopping this president.
It’s the attitude that has held this Congress and this country back from recovery from the recession and has kept them mired in the do-nothing cycle that pushed this nation to the brink of a disaster on numerous occasions in the past six years.
It is getting old and tiring to hear the only purpose of the next two years is more of the same.
South Dakotan Republicans are being pressured to vote for Rounds because the Republicans need this seat to take control of the Senate in order for them to push their agenda through both houses of Congress without opposition.
But we are people of common sense. We are honest, kind to our neighbor and patriotic. We have always stood head and shoulders above others in support of our military and in our country in times of war. We are ahead of the average American when it comes to history and tradition because we hold on to ours with pride.
We embrace the labels of backward and behind the times because what we hold onto is better than what others have.
We still have the pioneer spirit, work our butts off and accomplish more in a couple of days than most do in a week.
We accomplish more in a couple of days than this Congress has accomplished in a full year of work. We do it for a lot less than Congress gets paid. Yet we are considering sending another do-nothing politician to the U.S. Senate.
Despite what the commercials are telling us, Mike Rounds does not have the same values as most South Dakotans. Listen to what those sound bites are conveying. Think about the dishonesty of the Rounds campaign.
This is the candidate that used information about the ACA robbing $750 million from Medicare in order to frighten seniors despite the fact that the information was false and he knew it. He admitted to that.
This is the candidate that keeps changing his story when pressed about the EB5 Program and his role in it.
It is this candidate who vilified federal stimulus then accepted money earmarked for education and used it to balance the state budget so he could claim he worked with a balanced budget all his years in office.
There are other options besides Mike Rounds.
Do we really want to send another man to Congress who may just end up coming home to face criminal charges in connection with EB5?
- Katie Zerr -