Reasons W is Wrong: Spends $400,000 More Tax Dollars Annually, Plus Inflation

October 8, 2018
Contact:  David Owen 1-605-366-2669

Amendment W requires the state to write a $389,000 check every year to a non-elected commission and, if that check is not part of the legislature’s budget, the Constitution would force the State Treasurer to give the money to the commission directly.  Also, Amendment W says the Governor cannot use a line item veto to stop that check from being written (Section 2; subsection 15; Provision (10).)

“This mandated appropriation increases every year for inflation and is a completely arbitrary amount,” said David Owen, Chairman of the W is Wrong Committee.  “The ethics commission that is in operation today doesn’t cost anywhere near that amount,” he continued, adding “there are far better uses for nearly $400,000 including education or law enforcement.”  Owen concluded “You can bet the new tribunal will spend every dollar it receives to justify their existence and then go looking for more.”

Amendment W creates several other methods for getting more money to the newly created commission, including the right to levy fines (Section 2; Subsection 15; Provision (3) Sub-provision (7)) and even use the courts to challenge the level of the resources.  The text says The board may intervene as a matter of right in any civil action [edit] . . . or the sufficiency of resources provided for the board’s implementation and operation (Section 2; Subsection 15; Provision (9).  Complete section below.)

This is a perfect example of how Amendment W overrides all other provisions of the South Dakota Constitution and operates outside the checks and balances that keep one part of state government from over stepping it boundaries.  One of the key functions of the legislature is reviewing state programs and evaluating the spending of taxpayer money.  Amendment W creates an entirely new commission that sends a report to the legislature but denies their basic function of assessing the work of the commission.

If all 105 legislators and the Governor find the work of commission to be outlandish, irresponsible and overpriced, Amendment W will still require that yearly check to be written to the commission for $389,000, plus inflation.

The only way to stop those checks from being written is by a statewide election and a vote of the people.


Reference.  For purposes of context you will find below the sections of Amendment W referred to in the media release above.

Fines  Section 2: Subsection 15; Provision 3; Sub-provision 7

(3) The board has the power, notwithstanding any other provision of the Constitution, to:

  • (7) Impose sanctions on any elected or appointed official, judge, or employee of state or local government, including the power to issue orders, impose fines, and commence administrative actions- The board shall issue a written explanation for any sanction: Note – other sections have been deleted for brevity. 

Mandated Appropriation – Section 2: Subsection 15; Provision (10)

(10) The Legislature shall annually appropriate, via the general appropriation bill, three hundred and eighty-nine thousand dollars, indexed to inflation, to a separate constitutional Ethics Law Enforcement Fund to be administered solely by the board. This appropriation via the general appropriation bill shall occur, and shall not be subject to item veto by the Governornotwithstanding any other provision of the Constitution. If the Legislature does not appropriate such funding by the beginning of the fiscal year, the state treasurer shall transfer this amount, less any amount so appropriated by the Legislature, from the state general fund to the Ethics Law Enforcement Fund as soon as such funds are available. The Legislature shall ensure that this money is available in the state general fund for the state treasurer to make such a transfer. This transfer shall occur notwithstanding any other provision of the Constitution. Only the board may authorize the spending or transfer of moneys from the Ethics Law Enforcement Fund. The Legislature may appropriate additional funds to the Ethics Law Enforcement Fund or another fund for use by the board for its various expenses. While serving on business of the board, members shall receive reasonable travel expense reimbursement and per diem compensation. This provision shall be self-executing.

Go to court for more money – Section 2: Subsection 15; Provision (9)

The provisions of this section shall be enforceable by any circuit court. The board may intervene as a matter of right in any civil action involving any government entity, agency, or instrumentality alleged to be in violation of any mandate or prohibition under this Article, and in any civil action relating to the board’s powers or the sufficiency of resources provided for the board’s implementation and operation.
Paid for by the W is Wrong Committee – PO Box 190 Pierre, SD 57501