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State lawmakers consider preemptive ban of guaranteed income programs


South Dakota has no guaranteed income programs, however Senate Bill 115 explicitly prevents any county, township or municipality from creating such a program.

Big Stone City Republican Sen. John Wiik is behind the bill and said it’s a response to efforts in other states.

“Guaranteed income programs, also known as universal basic income, undercut the dignity in earning a dollar and they’re a one-way ticket to government dependency," Wiik said. "[The] Senate Bill is straightforward – it would prevent local governments from implementing guaranteed income programs in South Dakota.”

For Wiik, the conversation about universal basic income or UBI has already ended.

“In other words, UBI takes hard-earned money from people and redistributes it," Wiik said. "It’s a socialist idea that has no place in South Dakota. We don’t need to test UBI at the local level to know it’s a bad idea on the state and federal level.”

While there was no opposition testimony, there were questions about whether the measure overstepped local control. Sioux Falls Democratic Sen. Reynold Nesiba said South Dakotans should have choice.

"I don’t know if there’s really robust conversation going on in Aberdeen and Huron and Big Stone City about creating guaranteed income programs – in fact I haven’t heard a single conversation coming out of any of those communities," Nesiba said. "I’m sure this is really a solution looking for a problem that nowhere exists – but it is a bit authoritarian. It sure is awfully heavy-handed of state government to tell them what they can or cannot do.”

As an alternative to guaranteed income, Nesiba advocated for a universal job guarantee and was the committee’s lone dissenting vote.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture