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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

SD House Defeats Sales Tax For Education

Jenifer Jones
SD House of Representatives, 2016

One vote on the House floor Thursday killed a sales tax increase that supports teacher pay. A tax hike requires a super-majority, so the bill needed support from 47 state representatives. It got 46. The vote is official but it’s not the end of the discussion. 

House Bill 1182 is the governor’s legislation to add one half of one penny to the state’s sales tax. That generates $67 million for education and $40 million for property tax relief.

Opponents say South Dakotans don’t want a sales tax hike to benefit teacher pay. Supporters say they do.

State Representative Lee Schoenbeck says lawmakers who tout capitalism should consider how they’d run education as a personal business.

"We own an education system. Our job is to make sure that we have teachers. That’s our job. We own the system; that’s our job," Schoenbeck says. "And if we aren’t offering in the market a price that gets us educators, then guess what: we’re not being capitalists. That’s just what is comes down to."

Lawmakers in South Dakota’s House of Representatives amended the bill on the floor. They sliced off three percent from property tax relief for tech school educators and built in additional accountability to provide consequences if schools don’t funnel new money into teachers’ salaries.

State Representative Mike Verchio says many public employees are paid in the same range as teachers, and House Bill 1182 does nothing for them.

“Is it fair to single out one public sector and say, ‘We’re going to give you $48,000 a year,’ and not help the other public sector people out? Stop and think about that for a minute,” Verchio says. “Teachers are not the only ones who need to have a degree to get a job who are paid at $40,000 or less.”

By a single vote the measure failed to reach a two-thirds majority. House Bill 1182 died on the floor; however, supporters say they plan to ask state representatives to reconsider the measure Friday afternoon.

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