Friday, February 11, 2011

SD Legislative Information on Archaeology

Since Fr Tim and I have been on the subject of State Legislative bills, I offer the following information to anyone interested. I am on the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission and we are tracking the following bill currently (the following information was forwarded me from the State Historian's Office):

HB1248 – Tourism tax bill – This bill directly impacts the operations of the State Historical Society and is critical for us to pass. While historic preservation will face a cut in our general funds, this should have minimal impact on operations. It will likely come from our travel and supplies budget, which we can make up with federal funds. Without HB1248, however, historic preservation could face a larger general funds cut or be forced to shift more of our federal funds to personal services and away from projects like surveys, nominations, historic contexts, or training workshops.

The House State Affairs committee is scheduled to hear HB 1248 on Monday, February 14 at 7:45 am. HB 1248 removes the sunset clause on the one-half percent increase to the gross receipts tax (aka Tourism Tax) imposed on visitor-related businesses, essentially making it permanent. 

For the last two years, the archaeology program has received a pro rata share of the funds, replacing their general funds when the program and research center was threatened with closure two years ago. Under Governor Daugaard's proposed FY 2012 budget, the museum's staff will also be funded from this revenue source. Further, the gross receipts tax imposed on visitor-related businesses (including our stores), funds the arts and tourism's promotions challenge programs. Without the gross receipts tax imposed on visitor-related businesses, archaeology and museum will face closure. 

Overall, the proposed budget cuts the Society's general funds by almost $350,000 or 17%, but the addition of $210,000 in other funds authority (tourism promotion tax) helps mitigate the cut.  The new other funds in promotion tax revenue will be used to replace general funds for the personal services of the museum staff.  Nevertheless, we will still be taking the only cut in the department with an actual cut of $141,024 in operating funds, impacting archives, historic preservation, and the museum.  This is not quite a crippling cut, but we will not have interns in archives and the museum and the Board of Trustees will meet three times annually instead of four.  The cuts will impact collecting, temporary exhibitions, the Indian Archives project, and advertising and marketing at the minimum.  Fortunately, no staff reductions are proposed. 

However, with the added dependency on the tourism promotion tax, passage of HB 1248, an act to repeal the sunset of the one-half percent increase in the gross receipts tax imposed on visitor-related businesses, is essential.  Without the extension of the one-half percent increase, archaeology and the museum would probably be shut down, truly crippling the effectiveness of the State Historical Society.  We have heard significant support for extending the tax.  The hearing for HB 1248 will be held Monday, February 14 in the House State Affairs Committee. 

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