Entries Tagged 'Measure 15' ↓

M15 fails. Thank you South Dakotans for restoring my faith in you

Never thought for a second that my brothers and sisters would approve a very, very, very regressive tax increase. Thank you. While I don’t agree with all the Repugs you elected and reelected, I will say, you still are looking out for your neighbors. Thank You!


In my email box;

At the end of this election season, one advocate for children and low-income people is lamenting that important information has been left out of advertisements and public discussions on Initiative 15, the proposed sales tax hike for K-12 and Medicaid.  Cathy Brechtelsbauer, Sioux Falls volunteer and former public school teacher, lists omissions on both sides:

(1) Initiative 15 promoters have recently mailed ads with the highly suggestive message that Initiative 15 will keep seniors’ property tax from going up.

a. These ads do not reveal what Initiative 15 actually does: It raises sales tax.

b. They do not reveal that Initiative 15 actually says nothing about property tax. Nor have plans been put forth that would raise property tax, or any other tax, if Initiative 15 fails.

c. The fliers do not reveal that a property tax freeze is available for seniors. It is available to those under $24,116 if they live alone, or under $31,395 if the household has more than one income.

(2) Ads opposing Initiative 15 have neglected some compelling arguments for their stance.

a. There has been little mention of the effect of sales tax on food and hunger. South Dakota is one of the rare states taxing food and even taxes the food served in nursing homes. Already sales tax on food annually totals the amount spent on three weeks’ of family meals.  The increase raises that toll to three and a half weeks’ worth of groceries.  As the director of the statewide food bank often says about the tax on food: No other tax so directly takes food off tables. Besides taxing food directly, raising tax on other essential needs, like utility bills, squeezes the more flexible parts of the budget, often the food budget.

b.  This would have been an occasion to inform South Dakotans about which purchases have sales tax and which do not: Besides food, a sales tax increase would raise the cost to pay for heating bills, light bills, phone bills, car repairs, internet, clothes, baby formula, Tylenol, laundry soap, building supplies, trash hauling, kids’ music lessons, and much more.  It would not raise the cost to buy snowmobiles, hot air balloons, personal aircraft, yachts, jet skis, food for horses and pigs, or gold.

c. Initiative 15 opponents neglected to stress that because South Dakota’s median hourly wage is one of the nation’s lowest, a very large sector of South Dakotans will be unfairly affected. After all, sales tax is a regressive tax, meaning it imposes a proportionally heavier burden on lower incomes.

d. This would have been a time to inform South Dakotans that South Dakota’s tax system is already one of the 10 most regressive tax systems in the nation, and Initiative 15 proposes to make it even more regressive.

e. Voters could have learned that the sales tax rate does not need to be the same on everything. The sales tax “streamlining” rules allow states to have sales tax rates for food and utilities that differ from rates for other purchases. Exempting food from the rate increase would still raise over $160 million. Nevertheless, Initiative 15 drafters declined to give the exemption.

“Because raising the cost of living permanently for everyone hits struggling households the hardest, to the detriment of both education and health, I am asking people to vote No on Initiative 15.”


Is Yes on M15 scaring seniors? How low will they go?

I got this email today;

If you are going to do an article about the ad in on Initiative 15 scaring seniors about property tax going up, i think it should mention there is a property tax freeze available for seniors and people with disabilities.
It is available to seniors with incomes under $24,116 (live alone) or under $31,395 (more than one in household).
This is pertinent to the discussion and might alert some people who need it to apply for the freeze.

NO! 15

Gotta postcard from this group yesterday. Glad to see they are doing mailings, too bad they were not doing them sooner to catch all the absentee voters.

Is it really about the children?


The vote NO people on ‘16′ and the Vote Yes people on M15 want you to know that their measures are ‘about the kids.’

I get tired of the bogus TV commercials that try to pull at our heart strings by telling us this is about our children.

‘16′ is about a poorly executed teacher bonus program by our governor and legislature. There have been studies across the nation on both sides that have proven that there isn’t enough evidence either way if these bonuses work (they work in some parts of the nation). But it doesn’t stop people on both sides of the issue claiming this program will either help or hurt our children. Whether it gets implemented or not, the only real beneficiary will be teachers, how this may ‘trickle down’ to the school kids of our state is still a mystery (those studies are all over the map to).

AND, let’s look at M15. The TV commercial has kids dancing in the streets because public education will finally be funded properly (at least for a few years until the legislature messes with it – remember the video lottery funding education proposal?) Of course M15 proponents don’t mention hospitals taking up to $85 million of that penny, or that they are the ones mostly funding marketing the benefits of M15.

Not sure what upsets me more. The blatant dishonesty of these campaigns or that they are propping up kids in their campaigns to manipulate public opinion? Either way, it’s kinda disgusting.

While most people are struggling to get by, raising a regressive tax on food and other needs won’t benefit our children ONE DAMN BIT. In fact, it may be more detrimental then anything. Dr. Homan, SF School District’s Super said a few years back that when there is inclement weather, she doesn’t like to have a late start because if they have a late start some of kids in the district may not get breakfast (because they are not getting it at home). While the Avera’s and Sanford’s of the world are worried they are not getting ‘fully’ reimbursed for Medicaid (while dropping millions on advertising each year) there are kids in this state that have to go to school, or they go hungry.

Maybe instead of using children as a prop to raise our taxes, we should actually help the children of our state and properly fund education through the general fund and stop raising our taxes so corporations can get bailouts and refunds.


VOTE NO ON M15 • Sales Tax Should Not be Raised.

Bread for the World contributed;

It would raise the cost of food, utilities, and other necessities, hitting middle- and low-income households unfairly.


• Taxing food and utilities is the wrong way to fund state government. While funds for education and Medicaid are important, we should not ask those who are already struggling to pay more for them.

• UNFAIR IMPACT. Those already struggling would pay most dearly for the state’s basic obligations. Already one of the “Terrible Ten” states for REGRESSIVE TAXES, more sales tax just digs South Dakota’s tax structure deeper into the regressive ditch. It’s a knuckle sandwich to low income people, and even middle-income, making it harder to keep up with basic expenses, food and utilities being prime examples.

• IT’S NOT JUST A PENNY. For the consumer, hiking total sales tax from 6% to 7% is a 16.7% tax increase. To the state, the hike from 4% to 5% is a 25% increase. Already, sales tax exceeds a dollar once your purchases add up to $16.67. If this tax increase passes, sales tax will go over $1.00 on only $14.29. People will feel this.

• AFFORDABLE? Some people simply do not have the money for this tax increase. Outside estimates are that the poorest 20% of South Dakota households would pay an average $113 more a year. It’s $334 for the middle 20%, many of whom are struggling also, especially in this recession.

• HEALTH HAZARD. Higher tax on food and other essentials, on top of higher food and utility prices, means people with budgets already maxed out will buy less food or buy less healthy food. This has health effects and is counter-productive to efforts to shore up funds for Medicaid. Hunger among children has both health and education consequences.

• Might the initiative be harsher than needed? STATE REVENUE is up and rising. Since the initiative was drafted, more revenue is available than before. Sales tax revenue is up, including more tax from the higher prices for groceries and electric bills. The past year’s revenue came in more than expected, about $50 million extra! It was not budgeted. It is available. (Should we mention the state has millions that the majority of legislators refuse to spend?) Thus, even without this tax increase, more funds are available than previously thought. A family’s total annual tax on their groceries could buy all their food for 3 weeks Adding 1% would raise this to 3-and-a-half weeks.

• One in seven SENIORS is at risk of hunger. Where would people on fixed incomes get money for the tax? For example, the tax on a $75 electric bill would go from $4.50 to $5.25.

• Is it right to ask very LOW-WAGE WORKERS to pay higher tax? Bear in mind that South Dakota’s median hourly wage, about $14.50 per hour, is one of the very lowest in the nation. “Median” means half are paid less! Children from the bottom 40% of the socioeconomic spectrum have the most difficulty succeeding in school.

• BABY FOOD! On basic baby formula, sales tax (state+city) would go over $1.00 a can. For an allergic baby, sales tax already adds over $2 per can.

• How much would NURSING HOMES benefit? Unlike hospitals, they pay tax on all food and supplies, a significant expense in already-stretched budgets.

• CHARITIES AND CHURCHES. Energy assistance is being cut by Congress. Food Stamps could also be cut. Charities, already swamped trying to help with rising utility bills and food, warn “More tax just adds to the problem. We estimate that charities and churches would need to raise an additional $6.8 million to cover the increase in the requests for help with food and utility bills, if this tax goes up.”

• IS IT FAIR that the tax increase would apply to so many necessities and not to yachts, RV’s, personal aircraft, jet skis, and hot air balloons? These items have tax breaks already. IS IT FAIR to leave zero tax on gold and even on some of the purchases of aircraft and hot air balloons? No tax increase is proposed on these.

• WILL IT STAY PUT? Despite the initiative’s wording, future legislatures are allowed to redirect the funds.

• DOES IT END? There is no end date.

This is a permanent increase in the cost of living, whether people can afford it or not, in one of the nation’s lowest wage states. Low income is detrimental to both education and health. Please consider voting NO on Measure 15. Help prevent an unfair tax increase.