Voters reject education reform plan, sales tax hike

2012-11-07T06:00:00Z 2012-11-07T07:18:04Z Voters reject education reform plan, sales tax hikeThe Associated Press The Associated Press
November 07, 2012 6:00 am  • 

The ballot measures provided a mixed bag of results on Tuesday night for Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

South Dakota voters rejected the governor’s education reform plan and his plan to give incentive grants to large construction projects but approved his balanced-budget amendment to the state Constitution.

Voters also rejected Initiated Measure 15, which would have raised the state’s sales tax by one cent for education and Medicaid.

Referred Law 16, which was put on the ballot by the South Dakota Education Association, was a challenge to the governor’s plan that was approved by the Legislature. It would have given bonuses to top teachers, phased out tenure and recruited candidates for critical teaching jobs.

Sue Niegisch, 54, is a paraprofessional at North Middle School in Rapid City who said she voted against Referred Law 16 because she felt that the systems of competition it would create would be bad for the collegiality that boosts a school and school district.

She said the measure could also make South Dakota less desirable as it tries to attract the best and brightest teachers.

“We just need to get good people in here and keep them,” Niegisch said. Right now, “South Dakota is a pit-stop state for teachers.”

Daugaard argued the measure would have improved student achievement. But opponents contended it would hurt the quality of education because teachers might stop collaborating to help students as they competed for bonus money.

The plan would have given annual $5,000 bonuses to the top 20 percent of teachers in each school district, and provided scholarships and bonuses to recruit teachers in critical fields.

South Dakota voters also rejected Daugaard's plan to give incentive grants to large construction projects.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill last year at the governor's urging to provide grants to companies to get them to expand or move to South Dakota.

The state Democratic Party, however, said the estimated $16 million a year in grants would be better used to help fund schools. It gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot for a public vote.

The grants would have been paid for with 22 percent of the receipts from the contractor's excise tax.

Voters did approve Daugaard’s balanced-budget proposal. The governor said previously that current language implies the budget must be balanced but doesn't require it.

Two provisions limit state debt and provide for an emergency tax to wipe out any deficit.

The amendment Daugaard proposed says the governor must propose — and the Legislature must pass — a budget in which spending does not exceed anticipated revenue.

Opponents say the amendment is not needed and could encourage overly optimistic revenue estimates that lead to deficits.

In what could be seen as another victory for the governor, voters rejected a proposal to raise the state sales tax to provide more money for schools and the Medicaid program that provides health care to low-income people.

A teachers union and a health care organization collected signatures to put the proposal on the ballot after Daugaard and the Legislature cut state funding last year for school districts and medical facilities that serve Medicaid patients.

The measure would have raised the state sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent and was expected to raise an estimated $180 million a year. Half would have gone to school districts and half to Medicaid.

Opponents say such funding decisions should be left to the governor and the Legislature.

Andy Wiese, campaign manager for Moving South Dakota Forward, said Initiated Measure 15 brought an important discussion to the public’s attention.

“It is also important to point out that many of the opponents agreed that our state needs to better fund these two programs,” he said. “However, we disagreed on the funding mechanism. We look forward to working with them this legislative session to increase funding for our schools and providers. The state continues to face a long-term revenue shortfall and we must work together to fix the problem."

Retiree Robert Kimbro, 65, of Rapid City said he backed Initiated Measure 15, which would add a 1-cent sales tax for both education and Medicaid. “I think it’s just the better way to go,” he said. “I don’t need Medicaid or anything, but there’s a lot of people who do.”

Voters also rejected Constitutional Amendment N, which would have raised the mileage reimbursement from five cents to 37 cents per mile for their first and last trips to the legislative session. The lawmakers get reimbursed 37 cents per mile for all other trips to Pierre during the legislative session.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. elilyons
    Report Abuse
    elilyons - November 07, 2012 8:50 pm
    We do realize that education is important. Some of us also realize that taxes have been raised before with the claim that it would help education (gaming & tobacco tax). If education actually gets money from outside the general fund, the State lowers its contribution, so there isn't actually any increase in funding. Why do some people think that raising taxes is always the answer? Have you considered spending more wisely?
  2. Myname
    Report Abuse
    Myname - November 07, 2012 7:59 pm
    To the voters in SD. Thank you for defeating RL 16 which would have takend away some local control. But to those who voted no on Initiated Measure 15...Go to Pierre and tell the Governor and your Legislators that education is important and needs to be funded at a much higher rate. There is not a lot of fluff in most of the districts at this point. If funding doesn't get raised substantially by the state.....vote for the next property tax opt out your district needs to keep the programs and give raises to the teachers that are much needed. Very disappointed that IM 15 failed.
  3. TTGROM
    Report Abuse
    TTGROM - November 07, 2012 3:10 pm
    Several issue here:
    SD Taxpayers have no interest in using tax dollars to fund big business ventures that can capitalize on the low wages of SD workers. Solution we do not need them if they can not afford to locate here. SD people live here becasue they like it here.
    SD Taxpayers pay enough sales tax. Cut the administration and red tape or cut the government right out of the picture.
    It is not the teachers that should be penalized for the childdren in their classrooms who do not want to be there. Solution give the teachers the authority to operate their class room and you enabling parents and administration get off their backs.
    Mileage reimbursement has to do with goverment spending only. You legislators should car pool. You all campaign to get elected about how much you are for the people.
    SD taxpayers want a balanced budget. Solution do not spend more than you make.

    Too Bad Gov. Duagard traded his Billboard Veto for the "blame the Teachers legislation" and lost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. SevenEagles
    Report Abuse
    SevenEagles - November 07, 2012 12:42 pm
    Sue Niegisch, this measure is not what makes SD less desirable as it tries to attract the best and brightest teachers. SD's intellectual capacity is a national disaster area.
  5. Theknowledgebomb
    Report Abuse
    Theknowledgebomb - November 07, 2012 10:36 am
    way to go south dakota lets stay in the dark ages lets not get better funding to schools or for medicare I know that one cent for that isnt your problem. one day maybe we can step out of our caves and realize that education is important part in our community.
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