Sales tax proposal petitions submitted to stateSupporters of a proposal to increase South Dakota’s sales tax by one percentage point to boost education and Medicaid funding said they submitted enough petition signatures Tuesday to get the proposal on the ballot next year.
By: KRISTI EATON , The Daily Republic
Supporters of a proposal to increase South Dakota’s sales tax by one percentage point to boost education and Medicaid funding said they submitted enough petition signatures Tuesday to get the proposal on the ballot next year.
The group Moving South Dakota Forward said it brought the secretary of state nearly 34,000 signatures, more than double the 15,855 required to put the measure on the November 2012 ballot. The secretary of state still must certify the signatures.
Andy Wiese, campaign manager for Moving South Dakota Forward, said the group was surprised by the outpouring of support for the measure, which would raise the state’s sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent.
“Certainly it was more than I ever imagined or expected,” he said. “I think it just speaks to how much South Dakotans think we need to do something about revenue.”
The Legislature in March reduced per-student K-12 funding by 6.6 percent and cut reimbursements to Medicaid providers by anywhere between 4.5 percent and 11.5 percent. Other agencies saw 10 percent cuts.
The sales tax increase would raise an additional $180 million, with half going to K-12 education and half to Medicaid funding.
About $70 million of the additional Medicaid funding would be used to enhance reimbursements to nursing homes, hospitals, doctors, dentists and other health care providers. David Hewett, president of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, has said the remaining $20 million would cover anticipated growth in Medicaid use and increased enrollments.
The measure is backed by the state’s Association of Healthcare Organizations and the South Dakota Education Association.
Gaining support to raise taxes can be difficult, but the number of signatures gathered shows South Dakotans care about funding healthcare and education, Wiese said.
The group said nearly 500 people circulated petitions and signatures were collected in every county.
Wiese said the next step for the group is to begin a campaign to appeal to the public. “We want this to be a conversation that everyone participates in,” he said.