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Big Three from Daugaard: Amazon to Pay Sales Tax, State to Sell STAR Academy, Schools to Use Accuplacer or Else!

Governor Dennis Daugaard just finished his penultimate (Lori Walsh used that word—bless you, dear lady!) State of the State Address to the 2017 Legislature. The three biggest bits of news:

  1. Amazon has agreed to start collecting sales tax in South Dakota. Collections begin February 1; Amazon writes the first check late in March. Right now, Amazon collects sales tax for 33 states and the District of Columbia. Republicans in the chamber applauded the fact that South Dakotans will soon be paying more taxes.
  2. Governor Daugaard wants to sell the STAR Academy, which he closed last year. The STAR Academy sits five miles south of Custer on Highway 385/89, near the Mickelson Trail. Choice real estate in the Black Hills? Start the bidding!
  3. Governor Daugaard issued the K-12 schools a threat on remedial coursework. The Governor said he is “very frustrated” that only 42 out of 150 South Dakota school districts are using the Accuplacer program to help students identify and rectify weaknesses in their academic preparation. Students who fail to meet ACT benchmarks but then pass Accuplacer tests can be excused from taking remedial classes at our public universities. Governor Daugaard said that he has heard some people suggest that high schools be required to pay for remedial classes that their graduates have to take at university. Governor Daugaard said he isn’t proposing that penalty “today,” then encouraged schools to use Accuplacer, which the state makes available to schools for free.

Not mentioned once were culture-war issues. Hey, if the Governor is willing not to focus on (Christian/white) identity politics, we Democrats will happily follow suit and focus on bread-and-butter policymaking. Take a memo, Republican legislators.

Also not mentioned once: any grand new policy initiative that would really make the most of the political capital a popular governor not facing reëlection pressures could wield to do good for the people of South Dakota.


  1. moses6 2017-01-10

    But he knows whats best for us on IM22 anyone see that on kelo last night on the doctor,

  2. o 2017-01-10

    Why do colleges accept students who need remedial placement? Of the students who need that remedial placement accepted by colleges, how many graduate? Are we making the argument for a need for junior colleges in SD?

  3. rick sterling 2017-01-10

    State colleges accept students who need remedial classes because they pay tuition and fees $$$$$. Plus, those same students pay additional tuition and fees for remedial classes. Additional federal financial aid, tuition, and fees puts many more dollars in the ole college coffers.

  4. tim 2017-01-10

    Ron Nesiba had the best response to the governor: “He’s playing hard to get.”
    Ah, a shining beacon for the Dems who need such a leader now, who won’t take no for an answer and represents that the emperor wears no clothes.
    As a academic economist, he’s a Canesiast, I understand.
    Onward dumbocracy.

  5. grudznick 2017-01-10

    Ron Nesiba?

  6. Rorschach 2017-01-10

    Onward dumbocracy indeed! Who did you say is the emperor?

  7. 1254 2017-01-10

    I would like to know what are our state college graduation rates? Out of the students that don’t graduate, how many dollars of financial aid are lost? How do we compare with other states when it comes to remedial classes. I’ve been blessed with 3 children that have gone to college, each having similar ACT scores. 2 to UNL 1 to SDSU. With the scholarships available in Nebraska it has been cheaper for my daughters to get an education there, than my daughter who stayed in state. I am ashamed of our higher education system. Dennys is looking for a scapegoat.

  8. Tyler M. 2017-01-10

    Are you aware of increased revenue estimates from Amazon sales tax? Or more generally how much sales tax is lost due to online economic activity?

  9. Tyler M. 2017-01-10

    Just found an earlier post from DFP, estimate is $35 million.

  10. Adam 2017-01-10

    Daugaard is no Jankalow.

    South Dakotans REALLY loved that Jankalow guy – apparently because he was a big giant dick headed personality… swinging his johnson all around every room he ever entered. South Dakota loved him even when they disagreed with him.

    And so we gave our state to Trump because South Dakotans love that crap, and intellectuals just don’t get it. Learn to talk like Randy Macho Man Savage – or get the F out SD politics.

  11. grudznick 2017-01-10

    I would not penalize the schools for this Accuplacer business. I would change the state formulas so that teachers of kids who pass the ACT but then are bad and need to take extra courses in math or whatever get a chit marked against them. If you are a bad teacher, a bad bad teacher, your salary is going to suffer. It will be put in the formulas. There are Seven Indisputable Levels of Teachers. This plan of Gov. Daugaards, and mine, will start to punish the bad teachers since the plan to reward the good teachers was met with so much whining.

  12. shamrock 2017-01-11

    I’ve also wondered how students who need remedial classes get admitted to college. It would seem to me that if a student is not ready for college coursework, they should not be admitted. Colleges take students for the $$$ but don’t want to provide the services some students need to be successful and then blame high schools. On a per student basis colleges in SD receive triple what K-12 schools do in state funding plus they get to charge tuition. A four year college is not appropriate, or even advisable, for all students. I think the admissions policy is the culprit here. Just because someone has money, a pulse, and a diploma, that doesn’t mean they should be attending college.

  13. Dakota Bob 2017-01-11

    Did the Republican governor just raise my taxes?

  14. Wayne B. 2017-01-11

    Dakota Bob – did he? Or did he just force you to start paying taxes already legally owed?

    There’s a use tax already on the books for online sales. It’s incumbent on us to remit the fee to South Dakota.

    My big beef is if online vendors also collect city sales tax, how the heck will they be able to differentiate a rural address, where no city sales tax is levied, despite there being a town in our address line.

  15. Porter Lansing 2017-01-11

    Congratulations to Dakota Free Press. The other blog avoided the online sales tax issue like the lap dog, shoe licking vehicle for misinformation they are. DFP was the only entity advocating for this simple measure to increase SoDak sales tax revenues and should be applauded publicly. Hear, hear Cory Heidelberger and blog posters. You’ve helped your state, immensely.
    @Wayne … never underestimate the research capacity of Amazon. They know what you’re going to buy before you even know yourself and can easily determine where you live. Heck, they’re watching you from their satellites, as this is being typed. he he

  16. John 2017-01-11

    Wayne B: wrong and the US Supreme Court said so. I don’t owe state taxes on my mail order purchases if the vendor lacks a physical presence in the state. Tax and spend Dennis found a run-around the court.

  17. Wayne B. 2017-01-11


    I’m afraid you’ll need to read SDCL 10-46:

    10-46-2. Tax on tangible personal property purchased for use in state–Rate based on purchase price. An excise tax is hereby imposed on the privilege of the use, storage, and consumption in this state of tangible personal property purchased for use in this state at the same rate of percent of the purchase price of said property as is imposed pursuant to chapter 10-45.

    You do indeed owe state taxes on your mail order purchases.

  18. Dakota Bob 2017-01-11

    All I know is now I am now going to pay more taxes. Seems like an increase to me.

  19. Wayne B. 2017-01-11

    If you don’t remit Use Tax to South Dakota now, and don’t want to pay sales tax collected by Amazon, then that’s your prerogative.

    The simple way to skirt that is no longer shop from Amazon. There are plenty of other online retailers that don’t play ball with the state of South Dakota.

  20. Don Coyote 2017-01-11

    @1254:”I would like to know what are our state college graduation rates?”

    2014 graduate rates

    SDSU – 56.3%
    USD – 55.3%
    Northern State College – 46.2%
    Dakota State College – 43.9%
    SD School of Mines – 49.5%
    Augustana College – 66.5%
    Sioux Falls College – 50.5%
    Dakota Wesleyan – 43.2%
    Mount Marty College – 53.3%

  21. Robert McTaggart 2017-01-11

    Is that based on completing the degree in 4 years….instead of 5 or 6?

  22. Don Coyote 2017-01-11

    @shamrock:”I’ve also wondered how students who need remedial classes get admitted to college.”

    South Dakota public universities admission requirements. Only one needs to be satisfied for admission.

    1) ACT composite score of 18 or higher (SAT of 870 or higher)


    2) HS cumulative GPA of 2.6 or higher.


    3) Top 60 percent ranking of HS class.

    My youngest had to take remedial Algebra classes at SDSU. It was a struggle for her because many of the times the classes were conducted online not in classrooms and taught by teaching assistants not professors. Students get no college credit for remedial classes although they pay full tuition (she had to take 4 non-credit classes, failing twice, before qualifying to take college algebra.) Daughter finally passed her college Algebra class required for graduation by taking it as a summer school class at USDSU in SF. Intensive tutoring by her older sister who had majors in chemistry & math helped immensely. Graduated in 5 years with a BA.

  23. Craig 2017-01-11

    I’m not sure why anyone should be happy about Amazon charging sales tax. They have no physical presence in the state and although the state has a law requiring taxpayers to submit these “use taxes”, there is a very strong argument that such a law is unconstitutional based upon the Supreme Court’s ruling in Quill Corp. vs. North Dakota.

    Most will admit that few people ever bothered to submit these use taxes, and the state didn’t bother pushing the issue because they knew full well had it landed in a courtroom it would have been tossed out.

    So what benefit does the citizen of South Dakota receive by paying more sales taxes on products purchased from outside the state? Republicans cheer for it because it means more revenue, but sales taxes are known to be one of the most regressive forms of taxation available to government. These same legislators won’t even discuss the concept of an income tax nor will they consider taxation of currently exempt products and services actually sold within our borders such as advertising or the purchase or repair of farm machinery.

    Did you know we don’t tax fertilizers or pesticides used for ag purposes and that the loss of the tax revenue for those products exceeds the estimated loss for all online sales in the state? We don’t tax the sale of livestock. We don’t tax the sale of feed for cattle, we don’t tax the sale of fuel used for ag purposes, we don’t tax signs, we don’t even tax revenue generated from coin operated washers and dryers.

    There are dozens upon dozens of things that our legislature has opted to exclude due to influence from trade groups or lobbyists… yet when they have the opportunity to tax the average citizen just a bit more they jump on it, because the average citizen doesn’t have a lobbyists protecting his or her interests.


  24. Robert McTaggart 2017-01-11

    It is not uncommon for STEM majors to start with college algebra in their first semester. There are tutoring services available, typically provided by students who have completed the physics sequence.

    But if you really want to promote STEM education, it always helps to at least have seen physics and calculus in high school.

  25. o 2017-01-11

    Grudznick: “I would change the state formulas so that teachers of kids who pass the ACT but then are bad and need to take extra courses in math or whatever get a chit marked against them.”

    I shiver at the idea of labeling all special ed teachers and teachers who choose to teach the students with the greatest academic needs and challenges as “bad.” Then compounding it with docking salary for doing the hardest work with the most challenging students to get to an arbitrary benchmark.

    And what of student/family responsibility? When students (and their family support) choose not to take math and science and english classes that are offered by a school to prepare them for college, then . . . ?

    Didn’t the last election show the dangers of knee-jerk policy rants? If Grudznick would tweet instead of post here, he might become president.

  26. jerry 2017-01-11

    @Craig, you are correct. Those loopholes should be closed before we start to add on more taxes.

  27. tim 2017-01-11

    “Ron Nesiba?”
    guess I was playing hard to get…
    “Ron” is the anglicized version of the ancient name Renaud, or Reynold, referring to the furry, sharp-eared, shifty-eyed, low-to-the-ground chicken-stealing beast of the field…the little ones steal the grapes….and they breed like rabbits. and don’t wear clothes.

  28. Porter Lansing 2017-01-11

    Someone here has a psychological scar from a teacher in their youth. This person has a need to denigrate a group of teachers as “bad”. What trauma do you suppose caused this baggage? Hmmmmm ….. ???

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-11

    Dakota Bob, you hit the point that matters: you will pay more taxes come February 1 than you are paying now. Republicans applauded that increase in the taxes you will pay. Republicans lack the courage to come get that tax from you now, so they are essentially taking the position that your obligation to pay those taxes is mostly academic. But now that they’ve found someone to collect that tax for them without the Republicans having to put their name on a roll call vote for it, they clap with enthusiasm.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-11

    I agree with the suggestion that, ideally, universities would be more selective in admissions. Make clear to students that if you want in, you’d better learn math and English in high school.

    I sympathize with Coyote’s distaste for online courses, which still do not educate as well as in-person classes. But I wonder: who should provide remedial classes to kids who want to go to college but didn’t learn math and English well enough in high school? Should we follow Daugaard’s path and require the public school to offer a 14th year of classes for free? Should we let the high schools charge a fee for graduates to come back and sit in Algebra II or senior comp? Should the universities continue to offer those classes and charge tuition? Should we just say students have to find their own remedial resources (tutors, online classes, whatever) and that we won’t let them into a Regental institution until they can pass an entrance exam?

  31. John 2017-01-11

    Wayne B: read the US Constitution: federal law trumps state law. “States’ rights” died at Gettysburg. Move on. We are the United States; not 50 states. My uniform tag proclaimed “US”, not SD.

  32. Bill B 2017-01-11

    What will the legislator do with the extra amazon tax dollars? Will they reduce other taxes, increase funding to other areas, or will it cover a shortfall?

  33. O 2017-01-11

    Cory: “Should we just say students have to find their own remedial resources (tutors, online classes, whatever) and that we won’t let them into a Regental institution until they can pass an entrance exam?”

    Students should be smart consumers. If a student knows (as indicated by ACT or Acuplacer score) that their admission to college is in name only (being stuck in expensive, non-credit earning classes), then they should seek free opportunities to bring those test scores up before REAL entrance into the university. Get a book from Amazon (and pay a bit into the SD coffers), look at iTunes-u, search YouTube. Enter college when you know you can succeed at n that atmosphere. Entering a college is very different from succeeding. Congratulations to your youngest, Don, for making it through the hard road. Do we all believe that success is the rule or the exception?

  34. grudznick 2017-01-11

    Mr. o, I do not really understand the tweets or how all that works, or maybe I would. The blue links confuse me enough without having them moving and coming at you like you are trying to cross 8th street from Wilson Park and having all those kids flying by up and down the street. At least they can’t turn left any more when they are going down the hill. Plus, I don’t want to be president, that would just be insaner than most! I would fail and die in office and then they would have to take down Mr. Reagan and replace him with my visage, outside Talleys. Nobody wants that, especially the people who like to dine out there on the sidewalk.

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-12

    I appreciate O’s advocacy for students to be smart consumers. They should start by being smart consumers in high school and making the most of the free K-12 education we taxpayers offer.

    I wonder: how much is the state paying for the Accuplacer service? Is that service worth the money? Could students meet the required standards and get out of remedial dutch better on their own using free resources?

  36. Wayne B. 2017-01-12


    I have indeed read the Constitutions – both of our federal government and our state.

    If you’d like a refresher, the 10th amendment of the US Constitution preserves the rights of the states and the people not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

    Now, since South Dakota’s use tax does not impact interstate commerce – only the people within South Dakota – it doesn’t run afoul of the interstate commerce clause.

    So your argument that the use tax is unconstitutional is incorrect.

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-12

    Hang on, Wayne: when a South Dakotan buys stuff from a firm outside of South Dakota, that doesn’t impact interstate commerce?

    Consider the argument for—heck, consider just the title of the federal legislation our Republican legislators want: the “Main Street Fairness Act.” They want to tax out-of-state sellers to remove their unfair advantage and drive business back to local businesses. That sounds like an effort to impact (i.e., decrease) interstate commerce.

  38. Wayne B. 2017-01-13

    Caveat: I only studied pre-law, so my interpretations are that of a simple plebeian.

    But a Use Tax avoids messy interstate commerce issues because it avoids the interstate transaction and aims purely at domestic “use” or possession.

    It’s the same tax vehicle – an excise tax – that we use for vehicle and farm machinery purchases.

    It doesn’t matter that I bought my car in Iowa. Once I bring it home to South Dakota, I have to pay an excise tax. Thankfully Iowa didn’t also ask me to pay their excise tax!

    If I bought a combine in Nebraska, when I bring it back to the farm in South Dakota, I have to pay the South Dakota excise tax on farm machinery.

    South Dakota has the constitutional right to tax property within its borders.

    So when I say “impact interstate commerce” I mean they are not creating a law or levying a tax regarding an interstate transaction; they’re making a law and levying a tax regarding property on domestic soil, POST interstate transaction.

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-14

    Pre-law? Your CV beats mine. :-D

    Ah, use. I can buy that distinction to avoid the Commerce Clause… although I’d love to hear the argument about intent to deter interstate commerce in court, since we’re trying to get people to buy more of the stuff they use here in state and buy less from out-of-state vendors.

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