OUR VIEW: Vote no on IM 15Proponents say it quite plainly: Can’t you spare a penny to help fund education and Medicaid?
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Proponents say it quite plainly: Can’t you spare a penny to help fund education and Medicaid?
Initiated Measure 15, upon which South Dakotans will vote Nov. 6, is a measure to increase the state sales tax by another percent to create additional funding for K-12 education and Medicaid.
The measure comes in response to recent budget cuts by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the Legislature.
At present, South Dakotans pay 4 cents on the dollar for state sales tax. If approved, Initiated Measure 15 would raise the sales tax to 5 percent. That extra percent would raise millions of dollars each year, to be split between education and Medicaid.
The Medicaid funds could only be spent on payments to Medicaid providers and related state expenses. The education funds would be provided to districts based on enrollment, to be spent on improving education as school boards determine.
We will vote no on Initiated Measure 15 and urge readers to do the same.
The argument that it’s “only a penny” doesn’t hold much weight with us. This is an old trick and sounds great in advertisements and debates, but it’s a pitch for suckers.
Truth is, it’s a 25 percent tax increase — 4 percent to 5 percent — and it certainly will be a lot more than a penny on the majority of purchases made by South Dakotans and South Dakota businesses. When consumers spend another $100 on a $10,000 purchase, for instance, they’ll realize they’ve been had by the “just a penny” argument.
We do not like creating a fund that cannot be touched or influenced by the Legislature — the very people we have elected to make these kinds of decisions for us. Proponents of IM 15 have told us that if approved, IM 15 “gives people a say” in how their tax dollars are being spent.
Actually, people already have a say. Every two years, they elect their own representation; if they don’t like how those lawmakers are voting, they should vote them out of office.
One advertisement tells voters that Measure 15 would create a fund with a “fence” around it, “so politicians can’t get to it.” Think of how absolutely crazy that sounds — creating a fund that cannot be accessed by the lawmakers chosen by majority vote to represent us in Pierre.
And here in South Dakota, school district patrons can decide to opt out of the state property tax freeze to raise more money for their schools, to be spent however they see fit. Many districts have opted out and some have not, but this is local control at its finest. It’s another method that gives people their “say” in this issue.
Finally, we don’t like IM 15 because it skirts many contentious issues that already have been argued in the Legislature. The money raised could be used to improve teacher pay, for instance. To some, this may sound like a decent idea, but we aren’t convinced that all teachers are truly as poorly paid as they contend. We also must mention that Gov. Daugaard tried to address teacher pay earlier this year, but his proposals were met with little zeal by educators.
So it is more than “just a penny.” And to us, IM 15 is little more than an end-around to circumvent controversial decisions already made by the lawmakers we elected to represent us. Worse yet, it would raise the sales tax 25 percent to create a fund that cannot be tapped by our state’s decision-makers.
We aren’t against someday raising the state sales tax, but not for this.
Vote no on 15.