Right-wing Republican Jodie Frye is running for District 34 House in Rapid City. Facing a three-way primary for two spots against incumbent Reps. Mike Derby and Jess Olson, Frye fries her opponents for failing to act like Republicans and cut taxes:
“Both District 34 representatives passed up opportunities to bring tax relief to the citizens even though it was said that these are ‘good times for state government,'” she said. “If they won’t vote to lower your taxes even by a half cent, when will they?” [staff/press release, “Jodie Frye Announces Campaign for House District 34,” Rapid City Journal, 2022.04.29]
Frye is correct: Derby and Olson both voted nay on House Bill 1327, which would have undone the 2016 sales tax hike for teacher pay by lowering the state sales tax rate from 4.5% to 4.25% this July and then to 4.0% in July 2023. To pile on with Frye, Derby and Olson both voted against another tax reduction, Senate Bill 117, which would have cut the entire 4.5% sales tax on food.
Kansas legislators aren’t as stingy as Derby and Olson. Last week the Kansas Legislature, in which Republicans control both House and Senate, voted to repeal the state’s sales tax on groceries:
Soon after the vote, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced she would sign the legislation, which was approved unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday and on an 114 to 3 vote in the House the next day.
…In 2025, Kansas will join 33 states in not taxing groceries, considered one of the most regressive taxes because lower income individuals put more of their earnings toward food than higher earners. The current 6.5% food tax is among the highest in the nation, especially when coupled with local sales taxes. The bill incrementally reduces the state sales tax rate on food:
- As of Jan. 1, 2023, the tax will be 4%.
- On Jan. 1, 2024, the tax drops to 2%.
- On Jan. 1, 2025, the tax disappears completely [Katie Bernard, “Kansas Will Eliminate Its Grocery Tax—Slowly: Governor Agrees to Legislature’s Plan,” Kansas City Star, 2022.04.28].
Check that 33—other sources say 37 states exempt groceries from sales tax; Kansas would become #38. That would leave South Dakota in a minority of 12 states punishing the poor for eating, just as South Dakota is among a minority of 12 states that punish the poor for getting sick by refusing to expand Medicaid.
I’m not sure we can count on Frye to be a reliable ally of the poor, but if she will cut regressive taxes that her incumbent neighbors won’t, maybe working folks in District 34 should look at electing her. Of course, if working folks want Representatives guaranteed to look out for their well-being and not get distracted by non-kitchen-table issues like the culture war, they could just play it safe and vote for Jay Shultz and Darla Drew, who belong to the Democratic Party, which has been fighting to repeal South Dakota’s food tax all along.