Sales tax backers collect enough namesThe leader of a campaign organization said Sunday it has collected enough names to put on the November 2012 ballot a proposed penny sales tax to support K-12 education and Medicaid.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The leader of a campaign organization said Sunday it has collected enough names to put on the November 2012 ballot a proposed penny sales tax to support K-12 education and Medicaid.
Moving South Dakota Forward campaign manager Andy Wiese said the group has gathered more than the required 15,855 signatures from registered voters to place the fifth-penny tax before voters.
“We will have enough to file it,” Wiese said. “We will be filing on Tuesday. We’ve had a great response from our volunteers and they’re still coming in.”
The deadline to file petitions to qualify for the 2012 General Election ballot is Tuesday.
Wiese wouldn’t disclose how many names have been submitted so far.
“I like where we’re sitting,” he said.
If approved, the 1-cent sales tax would raise $175 million to $180 million a year, Wiese said, and that would be split equally between K-12 public education and Medicaid.
He said the money raised will replace dollars cut from state funding for education and health care. Education revenue would be allocated on a per-student basis while Medicaid money would be used to “ensure the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged children have continued access to necessary medical care,” according to statements on the group’s website.
The state sales tax is now 4 percent; if approved, it would go to 5 percent. The last time it was raised was 1969.
Wiese said the effort was pushed ahead by volunteers. He said there is a paid staff but would not reveal how many people were on the payroll.
Wiese said many of the South Dakota school districts that saw their funding reduced since 2009 have joined in the effort.
“A lot of school boards across the state have passed resolutions of support,” he said.
Wiese said now that the names have been gathered, the second step in the campaign will begin.
“We’ll certainly be doing a lot more outreach as we move forward,” he said. “Once we’re on the ballot we’ll go from there. Our next step will be educating the voters on this initiated measure.”
Wiese said he believes that if the issue was presented to South Dakotans they would give it a fair look before voting.
“We’re certainly not taking anything for granted. I’m confident as we educate people and have this conversation across the state they are going to realize this is a good answer for our problems with education and health care funding.”
Wiese, 30, has been involved in politics for much of his life. His grandfather, also named Andy Wiese, was a state senator for many years, he said.
The younger Andy Wiese, a Flandreau native, has worked on Sen. Tim Johnson campaigns as well as mayoral races and some school bonding and other funding issues, he said.
The South Dakota Education Association and the South Dakota Association of Health Care Organizations submitted the proposed petition language for the initiated measure to Secretary of State Jason Gant this summer. Gant approved the petitions, allowing the effort to gain the signatures to begin.
A second proposed ballot question, the National Popular Vote Act, will not appear on the 2012 ballot as organizers decided not to attempt to gain the required signatures.