South Dakotans are gearing up to voice their support for the Dakotans for Health's initiated measure to repeal the state's 4.2% tax on groceries next year. The momentum for this change is driven by several compelling reasons, which highlight not only the financial impact but also the broader social implications of the existing tax system.
1. Strong Public Support
According to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted by the South Dakota News Watch and Chiesman Center for Democracy, a significant 60.6% of registered voters back the proposed ballot measure to eliminate the 4.2% state sales tax on groceries. This majority support transcends party lines, encompassing Democrats, Republicans, and Independent/No Party Affiliation voters statewide. With only 28.8% opposed and 9.6% undecided, the public sentiment is clear.
2. Decades-Long Struggle Against a Regressive Tax
Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long criticized the grocery tax as a regressive measure, disproportionately burdening low-income individuals who pay the same rate as wealthier residents. South Dakota stands out as one of only 13 states taxing groceries and, more notably, as one of two without offsetting tax credits. This tax on a basic necessity has been contested for years without success.
3. Exacerbating Hunger and Inequality
The tax not only strains the finances of lower-income families but also contributes to broader issues like hunger. While various federal programs and charities strive to address food insecurity, the added financial burden of state and city taxes on food purchase seems counterproductive and unjust, especially when considering its regressive nature.
4. Taxation of Essential Items
The scope of this tax is broad, extending even to vital products like infant formula and baby food. This aspect of the tax highlights its far-reaching impact on families, particularly those with young children. The fact that most states manage without such a tax only strengthens the argument for its repeal.
5. Tangible Savings for Families
Eliminating the state sales tax on groceries could lead to considerable savings for South Dakota families. For example, a $100 grocery bill would see a reduction of over $4, a meaningful amount for many households, particularly over time.
6. Legislative Challenges and Inaction
Despite support from Governor Noem and bipartisan legislative coalitions, there have been 20 unsuccessful attempts to repeal the tax in Pierre. This legislative stalemate makes the case for a voter-initiated measure even more crucial.
7. Proactive Citizen Initiative
The path to the ballot is being paved by Dakotans for Health and dedicated volunteers, who have been collecting signatures since June. They are on track to submit the required 17,000 valid signatures by May 7, 2024, to qualify the law for a vote.
In summary, the combination of strong public support, the regressive nature of the tax, its impact on low-income families, and the legislative inaction to date paints a clear picture of why South Dakotans are poised to vote in favor of repealing the grocery tax. This initiative represents not just a financial relief but a step towards a fairer and more equitable tax system.
Get in the Ring with Us
This is a pivotal moment in our state's story, and we need you in this fight. Together, we're rewriting history, and we need every hand on deck. Let’s make our mark. Make a donation to help repeal the grocery tax today!
Make a Contribution to Help Repeal South Dakota's REGRESSIVE Grocery Tax!
P.S. You can always make a direct contribution to support the campaign too. We prefer ActBlue if you can. You can also send us a check to Dakotans for Health, PO Box 2063, Sioux Falls, SD 57101.