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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

Sales Tax Increase Goes To Governor

Jenifer Jones

A half-penny sales tax increase is one signature away from becoming state law. House Bill 1182 is part of the governor’s plan to overhaul education funding in South Dakota. More than two-thirds of State Senators supported the bill Thursday, and it survived its final legislative hurdle.

A sales tax hike of one-half of one percent is dedicated to increasing teacher pay, adding to tech school instructor salaries, and offering property tax relief.

Opponents to House Bill 1182 say lawmakers should find money to increase teacher salaries in the existing budget instead of raising taxes. State Senator Bill Van Gerpen says a sales tax increase decreases freedom.

"I encourage us to go back to the drawing board, to use the formula funding that’s in place, and for once let’s fund it like it needs to be funded," Van Gerpen says. 

Other lawmakers say the Blue Ribbon Task Force report details what South Dakota needs: more money for teacher pay. 

"The board has been pretty well drawn, I think," State Senator Scott Parsley. "This task force spent several months, several meetings, several hours with professionals from all over the country who’ve come in here and helped us look at our education funding and where we need to be to be competitive."

Both sides say they’re following the will of the people.

State Senator Mike Vehle says HB1182 is the right business decision, because in five years South Dakota schools will have just one applicant for every teacher opening.

"I look now at it as a businessperson, and I advertise for an accountant and the only person I get is someone that’s got a marketing degree. I’ve got a problem," Vehle says. "And that’s the same thing here. With a school, they might be advertising for a math teacher, and all they get is an English teacher and maybe a PE teacher. That creates a problem."

House Bill 1182 needed 24 votes to achieve the required majority for a tax increase. Twenty-five State Senators supported the legislation.

The measure now moves to Governor Dennis Daugaard’s desk. The rest of the governor’s education plan is contained in Senate Bill 131 and Senate Bill 133. They passed a House committee and now move to the full chamber.