Faced with an ever more dire looking budget situation, the state is turning to different sources of funding in an attempt to raise the necessary funds to meet budget requirements. South Dakota, along with other states, is weighing the costs and benefits of mandatory seat belt laws. Read more here…
A recent proposal (SB 79) suggests making non-seat belt compliance a primary offense for everyone in the state. Much of the motivation for this proposal stems from the fact that doing so qualifies South Dakota for a one-time payout of a few million dollars of federal money. Making seat belts mandatory will also create additional revenues from traffic tickets.
Although we can have the debate over the merits of mandatory seat belt laws, doing so should not be motivated by promises of one-time federal payouts, as it is not good policy to fund ongoing budgets with one-time dollars. Criminalizing current freedoms simply to raise more funds for the state coffers through ticket revenues is also not a course of action that should be taken lightly.
Our budget woes would best be dealt with in the long run by using more stable sources of funding and putting more focus on our general taxation structure. We also need to use more responsible, conservative accounting practices to provide the needed funds for worthy projects during good times and provide leeway in emergencies, rather than resorting to one-time money to fund ongoing needs, which creates problems during rough budget years.