Ellsworth currently has 5,182 military and civilian on-base jobs. A 2006 study found Ellsworth’s direct and indirect impacts on South Dakota’s economy exceeded $300 million.
...Ellsworth gained an important administrative role in recent years as the financial center for 93 Air Force bases.
...As for the authority’s potential benefit to the election campaign of Dennis Daugaard, keep in mind the old rule about real estate: Location, location, location. Right now, on this important issue, the lieutenant governor is in the right place at the right time [Bob Mercer, "Air-base Authority Offers New Role for Daugaard," Pierre Capital Journal, 2009.03.24].
The metaphorical location is more important than the geographical. Lt. Gov. Daugaard is demonstrating that politically he is smack dab where the vast majority of South Dakota voters are: determined to pay less than our fair share of taxes while depending on federal largesse (occasionally referred to as pork) to sustain our standard of living. Watch the other Republican contenders fall all over themselves in the scramble to reconcile GOP small-government rhetoric with the need to pander to that dependence. The only Democrat who could trump Daugaard on a record of bringing home federal dollars would be Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin... and South Dakotans committed to the continued imbalance between taxes we pay and federal money we get back might do better to keep our Democratic Congresswoman in the Democratic Congress working with our Democratic President.
I note with amusement South Dakota didn't even spend its own money to come up with the idea for the Ellsworth Development Authority: Mercer points out that the idea came from "a consultant, hired through a U.S. Department of Defense grant , in the wake of the near-closure of the base in 2005."
Federal dollars pay for a federal consultant to recommend a state program to keep federal dollars flowing into our state. I think my Republican friends will have more fun with that one than I will!