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Noem: Tax Cuts for Guns and Corporations Fine, But Grim Economy Means We Must Keep Taxing Food

So much hypocrisy, so little time….

Governor Kristi Noem happily brands her unconstitutional bill to eliminate fees for corporate filings and concealed pistol permits as “tax cut legislation.” Noem’s fellow South Dakota Republicans will swear up and down that there’s a big difference between taxes and fees, but hey: when Kristi needs a campaign issue (I’m cutting taxes for the high-holiest Americas: businesses and gun owners!), she can’t be troubled with technicalities.

Another sign of Noem’s narrow and politically selfish fiscal thinking is that while she eagerly proposes special interest fee/tax cuts that would blow a hole in the budget without any proposal for replacing the dollars her Senate Bill 212 would take from the Secretary of State and local governments, she says the state can’t afford to offer regular South Dakotans a tax break on food.

Amidst burgeoning sales tax receipts and a massive state surplus, Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) and revives a regular Democratic proposal to stop taxing food in South Dakota. Senate Bill 166 (to be heard by Senate Taxation tomorrow, Wednesday, 10 a.m., Capitol Room 423) would phase out the tax on SNAP items—food from retail food stores. The food tax rate would drop from 4.5% to 4% this July 1, then shed a whole point each subsequent summer until it hits zero in 2026.

Senate Bill 166 doesn’t include a mechanism for replacing that lost revenue, because it doesn’t need one. South Dakota is already raking in beaucoup new sales tax thanks to Marty Jackley’s Wayfair tax. Online vendors poured over $105 million of state sales tax into South Dakota’s coffer last year. Taxable sales at South Dakota retail food stores in 2021 totaled $1.786 billion; 4.5% of that is $80.4 million. Our new remote sales tax thus more than pays for Senate Bill 166’s repeal of the food tax, a move that would free every low-income South Dakota of the unfair regressive burden we place on them by taxing the basic stuff of life.

But ask to spread the benefits of economic growth equitably to people who don’t look good on her campaign posters and donate to her campaign, and Kristi Noem’s generosity and confidence in South Dakota’s economy evaporates:

Gov. Kristi Noem this week, however, wouldn’t commit to supporting any reduction to the sales tax rate placed on sales of goods and services right now. She told reporters Thursday while she generally would like to see fewer tax burdens on South Dakotans, the economic success South Dakota is experiencing right now is not guaranteed to last.

And she worries cutting taxes now could mean tax increases could become necessary in the future.

“The legislators are a little bit more bullish on what revenue will look like in two or three years, and I’m probably a little more cynical than that,” Noem said. “It’s going to be a challenge in the coming years” [Joe Sneve, “Gov. Noem Hesitant to Back Bipartisan Push for Sales Tax Reduction in South Dakota,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.02.04].

Every other word out of Kristi Noem’s mouth for months has been, “Strongest Economy In America!” But faced with a socially just tax cut, she turns more cynical than this blog. What’s next: will Noem fight the food tax cut by citing Dakota Free Press to argue that her spokesman has been peddling bogus economic analysis, that South Dakota’s economy is actually shrinking, and that the budget surplus is just a fiction of federal coronavirus relief?

If you’re armed or incorporated, Kristi Noem would love to give you a “tax” cut. Don’t worry about the fiscal implications—South Dakota’s economy and budget are booming! But if you’re buying groceries for your hungry kids, Noem can’t spare a dime: the economy’s going south, and you and your kids aren’t her kind of people.


  1. Tim 2022-02-08

    Take care of the rich, make the rest of us pay for it, standard republican policy. The snow queen isn’t doing anything with this that republicans haven’t been doing for decades.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-02-08

    Corporate wage slavery has been the Euro-American way in the West since the first “colonists” (“recruits” from England’s debtors’ prisons) landed at Jamestown. 80% never lived long enough to “pay their debt” to the Jamestown Corporation.

  3. O 2022-02-08

    At the root of part of this thinking has to be the GOP/Right/Conservative paradigm that shifting this tax burden makes sense because there is a Constitutional right to bear arms but NOT a right, Constitutional or otherwise, to food. Food, like health care, is a luxury afforded to those with means to pay.

  4. Matt Rosburg 2022-02-08

    I think that Sen. Nesiba should introduce his amendment to cut the rate from 4.5% to 0% all at once, and that this measure should pass with ‘almost’ unanimous support. There is no reason that this AND the overall sales tax rate going from 4.5% to 4% should not both pass. Let’s get this stuff DONE!!

  5. Cathy B 2022-02-08

    Update on SB166. (1)It will be postponed to next week, so it’s not up tomorrow(Wed 2/9) after all.
    (2)When you look at it and see the words “SNAP items”, that just means: Food using the same definition of food that the SNAP program does. This designation is already programmed into stores’ cash register system, so this makes sense. (3) The sponsor of the bill may offer an amendment to take the whole 4.5% off this year, rather than phasing it out, because it’s now so obvious that the revenue is available for this. Now please contact state legislators and urge their support for ending the state’s food tax. If you’d rather have 4.5% off groceries than .5% off the general rate, tell them that too. That might be the choice it comes down to this session. Thanks.

  6. Porter Lansing 2022-02-08

    Your Gov. Noem and her majority voting block illuminate the differences between conservative and liberal thinking.

    A liberal thinks, “Let’s do the right thing right now and if things change, we absolutely have the brain power to pivot to a new plan, quickly.”

    A connie thinks, “We can’t change because we aren’t good at it and if something out of our control happens, we’d be lost and stuck.”

  7. All Mammal 2022-02-08

    I’m with you, Cathy B!
    I’m with you, ABC!
    I’m with you, Matt Rosburg!
    Arlo, Cory, Larry, BCB, Mike, Porter, Donald, 96 Tears, and the mademoiselle from Hot Springs, too!

    I hurled an Emerson and an HP out my front door and I can’t find a doggon printer worth the giant box it comes in and these letters I have to type up on my typewriter keep coming! The whole no backspace is killing me:/

    I keep hearing, “Ever hear of email?”
    Yeah! Its not the same. No texture. And typing in CAPS or bold doesn’t convey the pissed-off regality as smashing those letter hammers into the document. The nerve of these sobs to keep coming up with their hatin’ ass, corrupt bs to keep me chained to an old Smith-Corona forevermore! Nonetheless, I am with you guys! The sleeping beast is awakening.

    Veering to another lane, I recently watched the movie Don’t Look Up and it made me feel some sort of way. Like I kept thinking it was happening and needed to go outside and look up. The president and her weeny boy in the movie played by Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill were undoubtedly based on turgid-lip Noem and her yapper, Ian Fury. No doubt whatsoever. Spot-on.

  8. grudznick 2022-02-08

    grudznick is with you all the way, Mammal, and your road dogs too! Call me a joiner if you wish.
    This would take the tax off eggs and bacon at the store, but also eggs and bacon at Tally’s, too, right?

  9. All Mammal 2022-02-08

    My roll dog, Grudznick! Yes! Boy, I hope so. Make it so meth isn’t cheaper and more readily available than food. How about no more food tax and replacing it with an advertising tax? Especially political campaign advertising. Hi-yah!

    With the ol’ good earth taking hit after hit, we might as well tax based on consumption of resources. The more little red lights from all the electronics turned off but are plugged in will render tax revenue. People will rethink their online purchases when they have to be shipped across the planet. They will rethink buying something laden with bulky packaging. CEOs will reconsider the Italian marble floors in their foyer. And trips to space will at least claim a share of tax revenue for all the fuel wasted. And with a natural resource consumption tax, we will be inclined to buy more local merchandise. Double whammy!

    I have a feeling this idea might wind up with my suggestion asking Putin if he can just invade Haiti instead of the Ukraine. They both have cinderblock landscapes and are scary when they yell. They could complete each other. Tsyah!

    I better get back to my boring typewriter rewriting my persuasions so the threats don’t sound so….threatening.

  10. grudznick 2022-02-08

    As a fellow Mammal, I will ensure the lobbists who protect our common interests are informed.

  11. John 2022-02-10

    Rest assured DFP friends that I think Biden is 100,000% better than his predecessor. Yet, despite his proclamation 2 weeks ago to become president instead of senator-president — his administration has a long, long, long way to go to not be tone deaf.
    Glance at the inflation map from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We on the SD western fringe experience 9% inflation. We pay a HUGE transportation tax.
    This inflation was foreseeable and largely preventable. Instead our tone-deaf senator-president chooses to play the wag the dog Ukraine game instead of dealing with our issues. Russia, China (like Japan) are demographically dying societies, incapable of sustaining their populations or selves.
    COVID is THE worlds largest issue since WWII. 1) The US economy transitioned to goods from services. Yet, neither administration did squat about the supply chain from seas, to ports, to rails, to highways, (or even computerizing the ports on the Rotterdam model). Nationalizing some ports, putting the military in charge, establishing a modern Red Ball Express for rail/trucking would alleviate many artificial backlogs and reduce the future whiplashes of double and triple ordering. Additionally, the west coast dock worker’s union from Mexico to Alaska contract expires in a few months. Union Joe needs to proactively step up to continue service or the supply conundrum will inflame inflation and wreck Christmas for many retailers.
    2) Since COVID struck oldsters harder, it was foreseeable that boomers would take early retirement in droves. Timely opening immigration would reduce the labor and wage inflation. Immigrants work for less.
    3) Biden continues his predecessors inflationary tariffs. US steel costs 40% more than EU steel. Similar gouging exists on lumber and many other goods.
    4) Price gouging: corporate profits are at all time highs. Corporations are hiding behind inflation to gouge us. Look at oil/gasoline. Demand is nowhere near past peaks but we’re paying those costs. This creates demand destruction as the US belatedly moves to EVs. That inflates the price of EVs and used gas vehicles (no one wants to buy new obsolete, inefficient gas vehicles).
    Biden has to WANT to be president. Instead we/he are distracted by Ukraine, and a host of DC-insider nonsense.
    Admiral Vasely quipped in the Afghanistan evacuation after action lessons learned that, “But you had everyone from the White House down with a new flavor of the day for prioritization,” and that this created a distraction for stressed resources. “I cannot stress enough,” the admiral added, “how these high-profile requests ate up bandwidth and created competition for already stressed resources.”
    Vasely’s point is government agencies have limited bandwidth. It’s acute in military operations, yet is true throughout government. Senator-president fritters away his bandwidth. We suffer. If he doesn’t change he may accelerate the fascist takeover of the US in 2022 and 2024.
    I WANT Biden to succeed. But he MUST pull his, and his staffs, heads out of the DC beltway – focusing on the imperative of the US economy, and not the nice to have, a distant 3d world war that won’t matter 20 years from now. Good luck with that since the pull of the military-industrial-congressional-media complex is strong.

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