So, it appears that 60.6% of South Dakotans have finally cracked the ancient riddle that’s been plaguing mankind for generations: food is important. Who would have thunk? Well, clearly not the legislators who have been steadfastly imposing the 4.2% food sales tax. As per a recent poll, a majority of South Dakotans across party lines have expressed their support for eliminating this tax. But there’s still a 28.8% faction that’s sticking to their guns, probably hoping their grocery bills will morph into the Declaration of Independence the more tax they pay.
There’s been a crusade, spearheaded by certain lawmakers and consumer advocates, to abolish this burdensome tax. They argue that it rubs salt into the wounds of the lower-income groups who pay the same rate as their wealthier counterparts. In other words, it’s like charging the same flat rate for a penthouse and a pigeonhole.
But wait, here’s the twist in our tale. State House Majority Leader Rep. Will Mortenson, a man of significant wisdom, thinks axing such a significant funding source is as “irresponsible” as expecting a cat to guard milk. Slashing the sales tax on groceries, in his opinion, would necessitate painful cuts to other sectors like education, healthcare, and state employees’ salaries. And who would want that? Certainly not the state employees.
Our dashing protagonist, Governor Kristi Noem, who earlier vowed to do away with the infamous food sales tax, got served a curve ball in the form of lawmakers’ reluctance. The compromise was akin to sticking a band-aid on a bullet wound – a temporary 0.3% reduction in the overall state sales tax until 2027. Sadly, the full grocery tax continues to peer down upon us from its sturdy shelf.
Plan B, it seems, lies in the hands of State Sen. Reynold Nesiba. Despite his prior failed attempts, he’s planning a comeback stronger than a 90s pop band – drafting a bill to eliminate the grocery tax in 2024. Only time will tell whether his actions will hit the bullseye or fizzle out like a damp squib.
In case you’re itching for an encore, there’s a potential ballot measure in the pipeline. Dakotans for Health, a group that’s been arm-wrestling this tax issue, is hot on the heels of getting an initiative to eliminate the grocery tax on the November 2024 ballot. Until then, let’s just keep our fingers crossed and our piggy banks padded – you never know when you’ll need an extra penny for that pint of milk.