Retailers, shoppers OK with raising taxes for teachers

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Sioux Falls, SD To help make South Dakota’s teacher pay more competitive, the Governor's Blue Ribbon Task Force has asked for an additional $75 million in state funding, proposing an increase in the state’s sales and use tax to help fund the program.

“It would be great for the community, teachers are important for all of the kids,” downtown Sioux Falls shopper Dawn Otto said.

“I think it’s a great idea. I don't believe people would really even notice the difference to tell you the truth,” Modtro Owner Kyle Haug said.

From shoppers to small business owners, the idea of raising taxes for teachers seems to be going over pretty well.

“I think it’s time they get the money they deserve,” Say Anything Jewelry Owner Stephanie Wilde said.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force proposed increasing the average teacher pay from $40,000 to $48,000 with the help of a sales tax increase.

“No body really pays attention to the little bit, if its a penny here or there and its going to go to a great cause and help the teachers and help our community in the long run,”

Some say consumers might notice the tax increase on certain items.

“Big ticket items you'd probably feel it, but if its going toward something good like teacher raises, I hope the public would be open to it,” Sioux Falls resident Tim Karels said.

“I do think people would adjust, it’s for such a great reason. What is more important than our future, our kids?” Wilde said.

Even those unsure about the idea of raising taxes say they agree South Dakota needs to do something to help increase teacher pay.

“I have children and I want them to have a good education, so if the better teachers leave, obviously the education system is going to suffer,” Haug said.

“My wife is actually a teacher and I do think the salaries need to be raised. Is raising the sales tax the best way to do, it? Right now that’s the only argument I’ve heard, so I would be for it unless there's some other alternatives to doing it,” Karels said.

Both Democrats and Republicans KSFY spoke with in Sioux Falls Thursday afternoon said if paying a little more at shops and restaurants is what it will take to stop the teacher shortage, they are all for it. Some added that with sales tax, everyone who comes to and through South Dakota will be making an investment in our kids.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force did say they would try to use existing funds to the greatest extent possible to fund the $75 million plan before increasing the sales tax.