At Monday’s forum with the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary Club, Democratic candidate for governor Jamie Smith said we could tax recreational marijuana, if voters legalize it, to make up the revenue we’d give up by repealing the food tax, as he has worked to do for years. Smith’s opponent, incumbent Kristi Noem, who refused to participate in the forum, is misrepresenting that sensible fiscal proposal in tweets and robotexts (I got one last night) as a wild liberal plot to “find more things to tax.”
Bill Janklow expressed exactly the same general idea of looking for more things to tax instead if imposing new and higher taxes when he celebrated his efforts to bring Citibank and other usurers to South Dakota:
We were passing legislation to lift the usury ceilings. At the same time, right during that period of time, Citibank contacted us, and when I told them that I was willing to go forward to try and do this, then Citibank and we worked together, and Citibank actually drafted the legislation that I then took to the Republican leadership, and the Democrat. Even though my party had a two-thirds majority, I took it to the Democrat leadership privately and to the South Dakota Bankers Association board of directors. This was all done in private. Once I had all those players together, then we introduced and passed legislation in one day. Literally we introduced it, and it passed our legislature in one day.
And it was one of the best things we ever did, [because] my state’s made hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions in taxes that we’ve collected. We had a 5 percent tax on the profits from these companies at one time. They make $500 million, we get $25 million. That’s a lot of money in South Dakota. To put it into perspective, one penny on our sales tax statewide raised about $60 million, and they paid the equivalent of over half of that at one time; just fell out of the sky for us. Plus, they put thousands of South Dakotans to work. The highest paid jobs for people in the white-collar industry was at Citibank …  people making over $40,000 a year. That was a lot of money 25 years ago. That’s a lot of money today for people [Bill Janklow, interviewed by PBS: Frontline, 2004.08.24].
Dennis Daugaard expressed the same concept of finding more things to tax when he touted economic development as a route to more funding for important government services:
Also, just last month, South Dakota’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of the state’s productivity by value of goods and services produced, was released. South Dakota saw a 4.28 percent increase and outpaced the national average for GDP growth.
My No. 1 priority as Governor is to create good, new jobs and expand the economy. Doing so will also grow our tax base, allowing more funding for those things we find important [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, press release, 2011.07.21].
“Grow our tax base”—that means producing more goods and services that the state can rely on for tax revenue. That means finding more things to tax.
Kristi Noem herself has looked for more things to tax. She has promoted
bribes economic development incentives for factory feedlots so I-29 corridor counties have more CAFO buildings to tax. She has recruited gun businesses to relocate and expand in South Dakota so we have more of their property and products to tax.
Janklow and Daugaard looked for more things to tax so we can avoid raising other taxes or implementing the dreaded income tax. So has Kristi Noem. So will Jamie Smith.