Voters debate Initiated Measure 15 and proposed sales tax increase
A proposed measure on November's ballot has passionate people on both sides of the issue speaking out this week. Initiated Measure 15 would increase sales tax by one penny for every dollar spent in South Dakota. The revenue from the taxes would be used to increase K-12 public education and Medicaid funding.
The coalition promoting the measure released a commercial Tuesday encouraging voters to put their children first. A group opposing the measure held press conferences Wednesday in Sioux Falls and Rapid City explaining their side of the issue.
"It is the largest tax increase in the history of this state with very little oversight and very little opportunity for direction," opposing spokesperson Michael Held said.
The opposition believes the sales tax increase will mean a drop in consumer spending. They also said the measure favors education and Medicaid above other important state-sponsored programs in South Dakota.
"Initiated measure 15 takes two groups and gets them out of line and puts them first in line for a large chunk of money," Held said.
Paul Curtin, a small business owner and father in Sioux Falls, said he doesn't think the tax increase will deter consumers and it is well worth the investment.
"I don't think we can fund our schools enough. Our teachers are not paid well and we've cut back on so many programs, I just don't think we can do enough for our kids," Curtin said.
"Yes on Measure 15" said that is exactly the sentiment that inspired the measure. The coalition collected nearly 40,000 petition signatures to get the measure on this year's ballot.
"To me it comes down to our children. We have to make sure our children are receiving adequate healthcare and make sure they're receiving a quality education--two things that are going to be important to the future economic development of South Dakota," supporting representative Andy Wiese said.
The supporting group says the measure would only mean an extra penny; however, the opposition said it is a 25 percent increase in sales taxes.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are just over 824,000 people living in South Dakota. That means the $180 million in extra pennies adds up to nearly $220 dollars each year for ever person in South Dakota.
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