This comes as no surprise to me (From my email box);


Unfortunately HB1131, to shift tax off food, was voted down in House Taxation Committee this morning.

You can thank the supporters: Rep’s Feickert, Feinstein (bill sponsor), Kirschman, and Bernie Hunhoff

Voting against the bill: Conzet, Greenfield, Kirkeby, Liss, Moser, Perry, Rozum, Russell, Solum, Wick, Willadson.  (Last year Kirkeby voted for a similar bill.)

Listen to the whole committee hearing by going to:

Click on the SDPB symbol at the top over the date 1/27, and scroll half way through the session because this bill came up about half way through.

There was an excellent body of testimony by Rep Feinstein, Greg Boris of Voices for Children, Matt Gassen (director of Feeding South Dakota, our food bank network), Pastor Karl Kroger, Joy Smolnisky of South Dakota Budget and Policy Project, and Kristin Ashenbrenner of SD Advocacy Network for Women. Also weighing in were Luke Temple of Dakota Rural Action and Senator Billie Sutton of District 26.

The opponents were Jim Terwilliger from SD Bureau of Finance & Mgt, David Owen of the Chamber of Commerce, and Ron Olinger of SD Retailers.

Comments of the legislators before the vote were very interesting:

Conzet and Wick said the refund program needs to do more educating. (It should be noted that people have tried over 7 years, which should be enough evidence that such programs do not work.)

Moser said the people who come to his church for help in Yankton are asking for help with rent, medical, and utilities, not food, and there are enough programs helping with food.

Liss said this bill “sets up a financial incentive to obesity”

B. Hunhoff, a supporter, said this will happen someday. Why not today? It’s a good moral step to help working families and the elderly.

The bill was “deferred to the 41st day”. That is how they kill a bill, because there are only 40 days in the session. We always say nothing is over ’til the final gavel sounds, but this vote seems fairly decisive, esp. given the party-line nature of the vote, unlike last year.

Nevertheless, legislators need to understand that South Dakotans really do not like this tax. The publicity against the 2004 ballot initiative had claimed it would cause an income tax and schools closing and snow not being plowed. It said the refund program would solve the problem. Seven years later, legislators should not be able to hide behind a failed, inherently ineffective refund program.

Many thanks to everyone who made contacts on this so far. This bill’s loss does not stop the cause, which goes on, toward making South Dakota a fairer state where all people can thrive.

The Advocacy Project

While I support eliminating the food tax, I think lobbying our State Legislature is a waste of time. Get a big time donor and put it on the ballot. It will pass this time.

BTW, Brian, why did you vote against this?

20 Thoughts on “HB1131 voted down this morning (Food Tax shift)

  1. 1. If this is about helping the poor, the vast majority of the 50+ million misses its mark.

    2. It sets up a financial incentive to exacerbate obesity.

    3. It does not act as an economic stimulus as the prime sponsor suggested.

    In general, my main criticism of politicians in both parties is that there are too many economic illiterates among them. Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell is a way out for those who want to be cured.

  2. From Bernie Hunhoff’s facebook page— “you’ll want to know that this morning in House Taxation the bill to repeal the 4-cent sales tax on food went down on a party line vote. One of the arguments was that if we make food cheaper it will cause more obesity in South Dakota.”

  3. And from Wed. Bernie Hunhoff
    My Republican friends in Senate State Affairs killed my bill today to create an online database to determine how much we’re spending on economic development. Thirty-four states already do so to gauge their return on investment. A governor’s staffer opposed the bill, saying such information would only frustrate South Dakotans because we might not understand the numbers. I’m not kidding.
    Isn’t it lovely that the repub state legislators have such a high opinion of the people in So. Dak??!!

  4. Johnny Roastbeef on January 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm said:

    Liss is a Republican, he voted the party-line.

  5. State economic development is a bottomless black hole – corporate welfare that keeps on giving and never filling the coffer. If the clowns running the state were to run the state economic development program “like a business” they would have taken it to bankruptcy years ago and liquidated it.

  6. State economic development is the epitome of government picking winners.

  7. Why is David Owen and the chamber against poor people?

  8. Brian, it is simply a tax shift, that’s it. Not sure why there is so much opposition? The Repugs get nervous when taxes on the poor and working poor get lifted, because they may have to pay more on their luxury items.

    “2. It sets up a financial incentive to exacerbate obesity.”

    You are not fucking serious? Are you? That’s why 40% of school kids in the SF District qualify for FREE or reduced meals, because they are fat. I hope you don’t believe this bullshit? As Dr. Staggers pointed out to me, many poor people eat unhealthy because it is cheaper to eat unhealthy, that is why they are over weight. I agree a little with his argument.

  9. Costner on January 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm said:

    I’m not buying the obesity argument mainly because I don’t think 4% is going to make a difference one way or another (as if 4% is the difference between obesity and a healthy weight).

    That said, I do find it someone ironic that so many of the ultra-poor in our society are overweight. It isn’t like it is a select few either, because I’ve donated time to some public housing projects and spent a bit of time in some trailer parks as well… obesity is a huge (pardon the pun) issue.

    Maybe Staggers’ argument has some merit, but only because a lot of these people lack the knowledge on how to shop on a budget and how to cook. McDonalds might seem cheap, but you can buy a lot of beans, rice, bread and lentils for $5 and it will feed you for days rather than one meal.

    If you really want to make the argument that the removal of a tax on food is about the poor, then why don’t you propose we offset it with an additional tax on prepared food? That would encourage people to save money by making their own meals instead of eating out and promote healthier lifestyles.

    Something tells me a server probably wouldn’t enjoy an additional tax on prepared food however. But hey – the real goal is to help the poor right? Right?

  10. Costner, I probably know as many wealthy overweight people as you say you know low income overweight people. These people also eat strictly healthy foods. I also know lots of low income people who are really skinny. Are you aware that a lot of people don’t like rice, beans, etc.? I have had beans prepared dozens of ways and the only way they have any flavor for my family is in chili. There are many reasons for obesity, you can’t just blame it on poor dietary habits. For a healthy well balanced diet you can’t just live off beans and rice, you also need fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat. I have lived in public housing, and there have been people in those complexes that had food stamps and some that were well enough off that they didn’t need food stamps, and it was pretty evenly divided between obesity and slimness and along the income lines too. There was some of each in each income category. The sales tax rebate for food, is a bunch of crap, because it only arrives quarterly, not on a week by week basis when it is needed. The sales tax on food and clothing is unfair to everybody.

  11. “Something tells me a server probably wouldn’t enjoy an additional tax on prepared food however.”

    Why is that? We We like getting tipped on the total bill, and taxes add to that.

  12. Costner on January 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm said:

    l3wis: More tax equals less people willing to buy as much right? At least that seems to be the argument behind the repeal of the sales tax on food… because if there was no sales tax people could afford more food right?

    Yea – I’m not buying it either. But if you taxed prepared food at 10% or so to offset the loss of tax on unprepared food chances are fewer people would go out to eat as often.

    Joan: There are many reasons for obesity, you can’t just blame it on poor dietary habits.

    Yea there are many reasons, but 99% of the time it simply comes down to too many calories being consumed. Period. That can’t even be disputed. People don’t get to be 80 or 100 lbs overweight if they aren’t consuming excessive amounts of calories.

    As to not liking rice and beans you’re missing the point. I used that as an example to show how you can eat well on a budget if that is your goal. I was dead ass broke during college just like everyone else – I know how to stretch a buck to make ends meet and I know it can be done… and never once did I think the sales tax on food was preventing me from eating or that it was unfair to me – and that was long before they even offered a rebate program.

  13. Johnny Roastbeef on January 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm said:

    2. It sets up a financial incentive to exacerbate obesity.

    I don’t know who is running spin for the Republican party, but that is one of the worst reasons I’ve ever heard for voting against a bill. I can only hope they feel some shame.

  14. I think legislators minds turn to mush when they arrive in Pierre.

  15. Tax prepared food at 10%? Why, is it just as evil as alcohol? If so, don’t let Jeff Barth know.

  16. Costner on February 3, 2011 at 8:48 am said:

    Scott – I am merely showing how removal of sales tax on one form of food should be offset by other taxes.

    If we really want to push people to eat healthy it would be one way to do so, because many lower income people rely heavily upon fast food rather than the much cheaper alternative of cooking at home.

    The anti-food tax groups tend to just say we should eliminate sales tax on all food, but I don’t see that as an issue impacting only the poor. I have a hard time believing the 4% tax on a steak at Minervas is going to really make a difference in the life of someone who is considered “poor”.

  17. Costner, please remove your head from your ass on this one. Taxing unprepared food is UNFAIR TO EVERYONE. Not just poor people. Do we tax water? Nope. Think about it.

  18. Costner on February 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm said:

    How the hell is it unfair to “everyone”? If you remove the tax from unprepared food it WILL be replaced with another tax, thus for the vast majority of people it will not matter. Thus – it is hardly unfair.

    As to the very small percentage of poor who this tax might actually impact, there is the rebate program (which I know is unpopular with you and your friends, but it exists nonetheless).

    And by the way – we do tax water. We charge sales tax on bottled water and we charge fees for water service, which as you have stated in the past fees are just another form of taxation.

    So bottom line – I’m ok with removing sales tax on unprepared food only… but not on prepared food. Any loss in revenue for unprepared food will need to be offset by additional taxes elsewhere – and depending upon where that might be, I’m sure someone on this site will bitch about it being unfair.

    Hey – property taxes are unfair to everyone too right? Because we need shelter just like we need food. What other taxes are unfair to everyone? Taxes on Tylenol? Condoms? Gasoline? Natural Gas? Electricity?

  19. Well, I do agree, taxes are unfair period.

Post Navigation