$18 Million Music Museum Funding Package, USD Discovery District Restored

PIERRE — Nearly $20 million in special projects funding for South Dakota’s only flagship public research university was reinstated a day after a budget-setting committee sought to kill the initiatives.

The South Dakota House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly passed a pair of bills that would bolster development of the University of South Dakota’s Discovery District research park in Sioux Falls and send another seven-figure stipend to the campus Vermillion for upgrades to the National Music Museum.

Specifically, House Bill 1210 would provide $15 million for the construction of a biomedical facility in the Discovery District, while House Bill 1209 would provide $3 million for the music museum.

Continued:USD Discovery District Seeks $15 Million in State Funding to Help Land Anchor Tenant

Neither proposal won the support of the House Appropriations Committee, which rejected both a day earlier. However, House Majority Leader Kent Peterson, R-Salem, used a procedural gesture known as “smoke” to bypass the committee and force a vote across the House.

As for the $15 million credit for the biomedical facility, the project’s backers say it will help the 20-year-old research park find an anchor tenant, which would act as a pipeline for jobs for the graduates from USD in the field of biosciences. .

Peterson said this type of investment will have far-reaching impacts.

“We don’t even know what the limits of something like this are because it’s exponential,” he said before his fellow House members voted 53-17 in favor of the allowance.

The $3 million for renovations to the National Music Museum passed 47-23.

But the hard-line fiscal conservatives in the House were not satisfied.

Rep. Liz May, R-Kyle, said while the state was enjoying unprecedented revenue, largely from federal stimulus, the opposition these spending plans were facing on the appropriations committee and in the House was all about consistency.

She noted that because the legislature has rejected proposals to provide varying degrees of tax relief to citizens in recent days, allowing a large-scale spending program hours and days later sends the wrong message to voters.

“We tell our people we can’t give them any property tax relief…but 24 hours later we’re here and we just lost $20 million,” May said. “That’s really what it boils down to.”

Both spending proposals will then be considered in the state Senate.

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