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Knobe Wants Income Tax on Table in Blue Ribbon Teacher Pay Discussion

I have only been on Rick Knobe’s Viewpoint University a couple of times. Did he catch something from me? In his latest column for KSOO, Knobe says we must end our “pathetic and embarrassing status” of paying teachers the least in the nation. As a fiscal solution, Knobe dismisses more sales tax as bad for the working masses and says we need to talk about a state income tax:

The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on teacher pay and teacher shortage, needs to discuss, not cuss, the pragmatic and wise decision of adopting a corporate/business income tax.

…For the record, I am NOT anti-business, and I don’t think profit is a dirty word.  I understand the need for business to earn enough to pay bills, update facilities and technologies, hire and train workers, expand when needed, and pay the owners and/or stockholders a reasonable return on the risk of their investment.

A business income tax does not have to be punitive or confiscatory. It can be written to yield enough to answer the need for more investment in education and not cause a flight of future investment to other states.

…It’s time for us to quit accepting good enough. We need to invest in EXCELLENCE.  That starts in the classroom. Our students and their teachers deserve the best [Rick Knobe, “Solution to Teacher Pay, Shortage Issue: The ‘I’ Word,” KSOO Radio, 2015.09.21].

Somewhat more lefty Michael Larson notes that Rick Knobe may not proposing political suicide for the members of the Blue Ribbon K-12 panel. Larson reviews the Harstad Poll—scientific, but poorly proofed and funded by SDEA, schools, and Dems, and coming from a Boulder, Colorado, group that usually works for Dems—which tells the Blue Ribboneers that South Dakotans support certain income taxes more than they support more sales tax:

An option that received the most positive response was increasing state taxes on corporations [headquartered] in other states at 70 percent followed by taxing the income on people making over $500,000 a year at 59 percent, increasing the summer sales tax by one penny at 56 percent, the corporate profits tax… at 53 percent, and lastly [a] state tax on car rentals, hotels and motels at 51 percent [Harstad Research Associates, “South Dakota Statewide Survey,” June 2015].

Knobe lives up to Larson’s call for all of us to be bold in proposing real solutions for our teacher-pay crisis. But it’s funny how “bold” in South Dakota simply means saying out loud that South Dakotans are ready to shed traditional assumptions and use an income tax to make vital investments in K-12 education.

p.s.: Whatever the funding source, the Harstad Poll shows that since 2012, the percentage of South Dakotans agreeing that our K-12 schools need more funding has risen from 62% to 73%. Wow—how big a majority do we need to get the Legislature to act?

Additionally, the percentage who say South Dakota teacher pay falls short has risen from 63% to 79%. The percentage who say South Dakota pays teachers too much rounds to zero.

Just for Grudznik: asked to rate the performance of teachers as excellent, good, fair, or poor, South Dakotans approve of teachers’ work 77% to 17%. They split on K-12 administrators, 44% to 47%. They nuke legislators on school funding, 19% to 77%.

And for those of you wondering if the sample might have oversampled folks with kids in school, consider that 65% of the respondents said they do not live with children age 18 or under. (1% said they don’t know—which… what… how do you not know if you have kids in the house?!)


  1. larry kurtz 2015-09-21 17:17

    Of course, Viewpoint University follows me on twitter.

  2. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-21 17:28

    Is there anything else being considered for legislative action in SD that has such massive and universal support? Anything? And is there any more blatant proof that the Legislature works for the Kochs?

  3. crossgrain 2015-09-21 17:34

    Welp. There goes my profit sharing.

  4. Jeff Barth 2015-09-21 20:20


  5. Douglas Wiken 2015-09-21 20:37

    The Blue Ribbon committee should change school account structure so there are two kinds of capital accounts. One for maintaining capital assets, and one for building new assets. The building account could only have money going into it if a specific project for $X has been approved by a public vote. Our school board has socked away funds for several years in order to build a 4th gymnasium for a school that only graduated 34 students last year. There are now about 700 kids in the whole school and when my wife attended, there were over 700 kids in the 4 highschool grades. Money sitting in bank accounts and certificates drawing next to nothing in interest are not educating students, not buying texts, and not paying teachers.

  6. grudznick 2015-09-21 20:51

    Interesting. I would expect a former libbie mayor to want to stick it to the big corporate hogs, and no citizen will be touched. Always stick it to the other guy.

    I am glad the SDEA acknowledges and asked about rating different levels of teachers. It is too bad they used 4 levels instead of the 7 Indisputable Levels we know exist, and then came back with just 2 percentages. Obviously the put “fair” into the 77%. Probably 50% of that number or 38.5% of the total vote was for “fair.”

    I am not surprised on the legislatures scores. They should score even worse.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-21 23:18

    Leadership, Jeff? I thought Scott Walker told us today that leadership is quitting. But maybe that works: for the Blue Ribboneers and the Legislature, “leadership” could mean quitting their resistance to what the people want.

  8. O 2015-09-22 08:14

    I would dispute Grudznick’s seven indisputable levels.

  9. Donald Pay 2015-09-22 10:21

    I’m not sure Grudz knows his Sioux Falls history. I wouldn’t call Knobe a “libbie mayor.” He was elected with mostly conservative support in a wave election that swept out the moderate long-standing establishment. Yeah, he surprised a lot of people that his politics couldn’t be pigeonholed. I’d say he started out conservative, but became a moderate. The problem is this was an earlier era, and what now is considered “libbie” now was moderate back then. I mean Reagan would be considered a RINO today.

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