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Partridge: South Dakotans Can Afford Making Sales Tax Hike Permanent

Senate Bill 86, Senator Jeff Partridge’s (R-34/Rapid City) effort to undo his famous 2016 sales tax give-back amendment, got out of the Senate this week, enjoying easy 28–6 approval from the full body after three days of wrangulation in Senate Taxation.

Bart Pfankuch summarizes the debate so far and catches this fine justification for raising taxes from Senator Partridge:

“It’s integral for them to reduce the tax rate in conjunction with estimates of the revenues based on what else is going on, based on econometrics and potential current events,” Partridge said. “Even with the sales tax increase, we continue to have a very low burden on the citizens of South Dakota” [Bart Pfankuch, “Lawmakers Spar over Potential Reduction in State Sales Tax Rate,” South Dakota news Watch, 2019.02.11].

Did you catch that? Republicans raised your taxes in 2016. Senator Jeff Partridge now wants to make that tax hike permanent. That tax hike is o.k., says Senator Partridge, because we still have “a very low tax burden.”

If our tax burden is so low that Republicans can justify a permanent increase, then Democrats should be able to justify swapping out the sales tax with a progressive state income tax that wouldn’t increase that burden at all but would simply reapportion that burden more fairly and promote worker recruitment.


  1. grudznick 2019-02-16 09:00

    Tax should be on how much you consume and not be unfairly jammed down the maws of those who work harder.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-16 09:47

    Grudz, first off, do you accept Partridge’s argument that making the sales tax increase permanent is o.k. because our tax burden is still very low?

    Second, on regressive versus progressive taxes, I’ll contend that taxes based entirely on consumption are practically and morally flawed (as I have contended often previously), but as a separate argument, I’ll also put on my waders and come muck around in your worldview to prove you wrong:

    If taxes are to be based entirely on consumption, we must consider everything you consume. The rich have more wealth, more property, more contracts to protect. They hire more workers who need education. They ship more goods that require more roads and snowplows and tankers and Coast Guards to keep their commerce flowing. They consume a disproportionate amount of public goods and services to keep their corporate empires afloat; they thus should pay for that greater consumption, which is not measured by exact amounts of jars of peanut butter and loaves of bread and gallons of gasoline purchased but by the overall benefits they enjoy by living in a civilized society rather than the state of nature, in which their corporate structures would be impossible.

    I can still eat and clothe myself in the state of nature—not well, but it’s doable. I’ll be darned if I can have a corporation in the state of nature. A consumption tax on food and clothing is thus a less logical outcome of government than a tax on the privilege of being a corporation.

    In other consumption news, I eat Grudz for breakfast. Tastes like goat. Nom nom nom.

  3. jerry 2019-02-16 09:52

    Guy sounds like he runs a financial adviser shop with other people’s money.

  4. Porter Lansing 2019-02-16 10:17

    grudznick’s goats taste like butt. I should know. I’ve taken so many from him.
    As Cory so eloquently points out. A consumption tax includes everything you use in America. We buy everything America owns and provides, as a group and how much of it you “consume” is how your tax is calculated.
    Thus … grudznick is advocating socialism (And Mr. Lansing agrees) *Things we all use are always cheaper when purchased as a group and always more expensive when purchased individually.

  5. Jason 2019-02-16 12:43

    Partridge is wrong in trying to change his amendment and Cory is also wrong.

    A consumption tax is the fairest way to tax people.

  6. grudznick 2019-02-16 12:46

    I am glad you are coming around to my ways, Mr. H. I like calling it a consumption tax. He who eats more for breakfast pays more in taxes. It is true that some pay a bigger percentage of their income on breakfast than do others, but to them I say

    C’est la vie

    and that they should work harder if they want bigger and fancier breakfasts.

  7. Roger Cornelius 2019-02-16 15:15

    Jason is wrong!!!

  8. bearcreekbat 2019-02-16 15:29

    Cory’s consumption analysis makes a lot of sense – the more one consumes the more one could and should pay in taxes. I might add that by making that “consumption tax” progressive, it would be even fairer.

    For example, people with high incomes and vast resources could pay a “consumption tax” of 200%-%500 on all spending, while those with more basic incomes could be taxed at something like .005%-.010%. Each would only be paying the “consumption tax” that Jason and like thinkers favor. While calculating income and resources levels would have to set the progressive rates to avoid making the tax confiscatory on anyone. Thus, there would be a bottom line that would guarantee that the taxpayer would retain sufficent income and resources to meet all needs, including savings. And to make it even fairer, the rich would be able retain sufficient income and resources to also meet all of their needs, as well as allowing them to satiate the vast majority of their wants and desires.

    And folks who want to reduce their taxes would have the option of limiting their spending. By giving up expensive houses, cars, yahts, designer clothing, Mar a Lago type trips, caviar and champagne, lobster, vineyards, servants and staff, and similar extravagant purchases, the wealthy could save a bundle!

  9. South DaCola 2019-02-16 16:52

    I warned that the half penny tax increase was a bad idea and would be permanent. Once a tax is implemented in SD, it never goes away. We could have found the money elsewhere to increase teacher pay, but no one had the guts to go after the state’s investment funds. So now we are stuck with this tax increase forever. BTW, Cory is spot on, an income tax in the state would raise way more money than a sales tax, and is more fair.

  10. Porter Lansing 2019-02-16 18:12

    Love it when you talk like that, Bear. That one went into my “BCB ON” file under BCB ON PROGRESSIVE CONSUMPTION TAXES.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-16 18:41

    A consumption tax, like all taxes, should serve first and foremost to sustain civil society. The purpose of civil society is to ensure that all people enjoy equal liberty… or at least as close as we can practically get to equal in the exercise of basic civil liberties—freedom of speech, freedom to vote, opportunity to participate in civic life and the economy—that we would not enjoy in a state of nature ruled by the biggest bullies. The greatest threat to civil society is that certain bullies will still get so big that they will not subject to the check on their power exerted by civil society.

    Bullies get big by consuming.

    My buying enough groceries to feed my family poses zero threat to the liberty of all my neighbors in civil society.

    One person’s buying all the groceries in South Dakota, or buying all of the grocery stores in South Dakota, thus subjecting all of us to monopoly pricing, poses some threat to our liberty and the health of civil society.

    My buying domains and hosting for my little blog poses little threat to the free flow of the information people need to exercise their liberty.

    One corporation’s buying of every TV and radio station in the state poses some threat to informed civil society.

    My buying a phone so I can call Pierre to testify electronically on a bill before committee does little to exclude other voices from the discussion of laws under which we may live.

    A rich corporation’s purchase of services from multiple lobbyists to blanket the Capitol with their message on legislation, not to mention their purchase of all the chili and oysters that Senator Al Novstrup is so grateful to receive, as a greater ability to amplify that corporation’s voice and drown out the voice of other South Dakotans.

    Consumption gauges power. Power amassed in fewer hands threatens universal liberty.

    It is thus logical that a consumption tax should be progressive, as Bearcreekbat proposes. A progressive consumption tax puts a lower price on subsistence levels of consumption that simply maintain an individual’s basic life and liberty and puts a higher price on greater levels of consumption that allow one person to amass and deploy resources in ways that deprive others of liberty and circumvent the check on bullying that civil society is founded to provide.

    I could stop right there and win this debate wholly on the ground that Jason and Grudz have thinly staked. Let’s do nothing but consumption tax, and let’s make it progressive to provide that basic check on bullying that a civil society must provide.

    But I can’t help noticing that a smart civil society would recognize that, if consumption is a basis for power, then so is wealth, and the acquisition of wealth. Instead of waiting for some billionaire tyrant to come to town and start buying all the grocery stores and broadcast stations and having to apply those new consumption tax dollars to check the imbalance of power the billionaire tyrant can now create, it makes sense to do some preventative civil society medicine and progressively tax wealth as it comes in, to depress the rate of folks becoming unaccountably rich in the first place and keep our civil institutions strong enough to withstand any assault of some big bully consumer.

    There’s one more reason that a progressive income tax is better than a consumption tax, whether regressive or progressive: nip problems in the bud instead of waiting for things to get bad.

    Mmmm… Grudz for supper, Jason for dessert. (For this consumption, civil society should actually pay me, not tax me, since my gobbling up of their really crappy arguments—and Jason hasn’t even offered an argument, just another one-liner—helps strengthen civil society against hogwash.)

  12. o 2019-02-16 19:13

    Jason: “A consumption tax is the fairest way to tax people.”

    OK, I call. How is this fair; let’s see your reasoning beyond the bumper sticker. Would you also consider purchase of stocks and securities and property as “consumption?”

  13. Debbo 2019-02-16 20:43

    Cory and BCB get multi-course meals.

    Jason and Grudz/Murphy go hungry.

  14. grudznick 2019-02-17 08:44

    Messrs. H and C are wrong. grudznick’s is declared the winner of the debates and will now celebrate with a Meat Lovers Breakfast at Talley’s.

  15. Jason 2019-02-17 10:16

    Anti-trust laws control bullies, income taxes do not.

    I win the debate Cory.

  16. Jason 2019-02-17 10:17

    0, it is fair because everyone pays the same rate of tax and you only pay tax if you buy something.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-17 11:23

    Anti-trust laws provide no protection from rich bullies who buy all the lawyers, lobbyists, and lawmakers. A bully like Trump only wields anti-trust laws against people he doesn’t like. A proper progressive consumption tax is a sensible preventative measure, wholly justified by the social contract.

    But what is Jason complaining to me for? Senator Partridge is the one saying that South Dakota’s taxes are so low that we can afford to make a tax hike permanent. I’m just suggesting ways we could make that permanent Republican tax hike fairer and better protective of everyone’s liberty.

  18. Kal Lis 2019-02-17 11:42

    South Dakota’s tax burden is low for those who have a lot of resources that they may or may not have worked for. It is high for those who who work for the few resources they have

    A 6.5% hit on every food item purchased at the grocery store and every clothing item purchased along with a 22 cents per gallon tax on gasoline hurts someone working for $15 an hour but isn’t going to matter to someone who inherited a trust fund.

    Income taxes in the places I have lived have deductions and exemptions. South Dakota’s tax system provides none and squeezes those at the bottom so that those at the top can brag about low taxes.

  19. Jason 2019-02-17 11:56

    Cory wrote:

    Anti-trust laws provide no protection from rich bullies who buy all the lawyers, lobbyists, and lawmakers.

    If that is a problem, make better anti-trust laws.

    It’s really simple Cory.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-17 12:04

    Jason, if concentration camps were a problem, the Jews could simply have grabbed the guards’ guns and freed themselves. It’s really quite simple.

  21. Jason 2019-02-17 12:06

    Germany didn’t have the US Constitution.

    Your analogy failed.

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-17 12:08

    I love it when Kal Lis reminds us of the original evidence presented. South Dakota’s lowest income quartile, folks making less than $25,800, pay 11.2% of their income in state and local taxes. The richest 20%, folks making over $109,900, pay 5.8% or less.

    That regressive tax burden creates a demographic pressure that leaves South Dakota with greater numbers of two kinds of people: poor workers who can’t afford mobility, and rich jerks who enjoy getting out of paying taxes.

  23. Jason 2019-02-17 12:11


    How are the rich getting out of paying taxes in SD?

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-17 12:17

    No, Jason, you failed to grasp the analogy about bullies amassing power and how hard it is for the bullied to seize that power back.

    The numbers on tax burden speak for themselves. As Kal Lis said and I substantiated, the poor shoulde r a higher tax burden than the rich in South Dakota.

  25. Jason 2019-02-17 12:29

    You fail to grasp the reason we have the second amendment is for bullies.

    Poor people pay less tax than rich people in SD.

    Poor people have less fun money.

    If they want more fun money, they are free to change their lives to get more fun money.

  26. Jason 2019-02-17 12:33

    The biggest bully in this situation is you Cory.

    You want to be a bully and steal money from “rich” people because they have more than you.

    The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

  27. o 2019-02-17 13:15

    1) your “fair” argument holds no water – you equate fair with same; by your reasoning everyone who works an honest day’s work should be paid the same too – that would be fair.
    2) the reason we have a Second Amendment was to ensure a well-armed militia during colonial times when a fledgling government has to raise and army yet did not have the resources to arm those forces.
    3) a bully has to be in a superior power position; calling Cory a “bully” to billionaires is foolish. If you choose to substitute bombast for argument, at least get your terminology on point.

    To paraphrase Willy Sutton, we MUST tax the rich because that is where all the money is. More even than income, I would rather see citizens tax based on their wealth.

  28. mike from iowa 2019-02-17 13:34

    Troll wants to steal money from the poor and hand it over to the koch bros because only inherited wealth should have access to riches.

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-17 13:38

    Jason thinks the Warsaw Uprising was Jews bullying Germans.

  30. Debbo 2019-02-17 17:16

    C’mon “Jason.” Quit hiding and being a coward. What’s your real name? Don’t be ashamed to admit who you are, unless maybe you should be…….

  31. Roger Cornelius 2019-02-17 18:03

    Cory challenged Jason to a debate at the Brown County Fair this summer, I’m assuming Jason will be man enough to accept Cory’s challenge.
    Once we find out when the debate is scheduled, we’ll know the Troll’s identity.

  32. mike from iowa 2019-02-17 18:42

    I am no constitutional expert, but I distinctly disremember seeing the word bullies in any amendment. I never saw the word gun(s) or gawd, either.

  33. Roger Cornelius 2019-02-17 18:47

    mike, I suspect anybody can be a Constitutional scholar, for instance, Trump said he doesn’t believe the 25th Amendment (presidential removal clause) is part of the Constitution.

  34. Debbo 2019-02-17 19:50

    I don’t believe Lying Lunatic is part of the constitution. We could tell him to show us where in the constitution he fits in and he couldn’t do it.

  35. Debbo 2019-02-17 19:57

    I will bet that if we stood in front of Lying Lunatic, placed a copy of the US Constitution in front of him and said, “If you can show us where in this document you are covered, in the next 3 minutes, here by yourself, we will concede that you are dictator for life and Pootie`s Best Friend. Otherwise you and Prissy Pussy Pency resign and leave immediately. Go!”

    He couldn’t do it. If it was Madam Speaker Pelosi, Chinless Wonder McTurtle, SCOTUS and all the Joint Chiefs making him that promise, he could not do it.

  36. Timoteo 2019-02-19 07:00

    Using the numbers that Mr. Heidelberger has provided, the (average?) poor person pays $2,889.60 in taxes (11.2% of $25,800). Meanwhile the (average?) rich person pays $6,374.20 (5.8% of $109,900). It seems to me that the net effect is already somewhat progressive. It just is not progressive enough to suit the preferences of many who participate in this online community.

    A perfectly fair tax would have been where everyone owed and paid the same amount. That is not what is happening here. Perhaps the rich paying more is being driven by their presumably greater consumption.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-20 20:51

    No, Timoteo. Progressivity is defined by percentages, by relative burden and lost utility, not raw amounts.

    But if amounts fire your imagination, consider it this way: When the poor person ($25,800 represents the highest income in the bottom quintile) gets done paying taxes, she has $22,900 left to feed, clothe, and house her family. When the rich person ($109,900 is the bottom of the highest quintile), she has $103,500 left, nearly five times as much, to take care of her family and exercise her liberty in greater luxury.

    Taking $2,900 from a poor person creates a greater burden than taking $6,370 from a rich person.

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