Bob Mercer agrees that Governor Kristi Noem’s election-season advocacy of repealing the sales tax on food is a 180-degree turn from her clear repudiation of repealing the food tax last March. The best her cronies can do is tell us that Governor Noem didn’t mean what she said in public during the 2022 Legislative Session:
Her campaign’s spokesman, Ian Fury, insisted at the time that she had privately expressed support for the repeal back in March.
Fury did so again Friday, in a statement to KELOLAND News: “Governor Noem told Senate leadership that she supported the bill to eliminate the food tax and would sign it if it reached her desk” [Bob Mercer, “On Food-Tax Repeal, Noem Attempts 180-Degree Turn,” KELO-TV, 2022.10.28].
Jeff Partridge, who helped Noem with her budget during the 2022 Session and who was part of the panel discussion in which Noem rejected a food tax repeal as a fiscally irresponsible ploy to foist an income tax on South Dakota, joins the spin:
“The governor was interested in repealing the tax on groceries last year,” Partridge, who runs financial planning businesses in Rapid City and Spearfish, told KELOLAND News. “We discussed it at length and did significant research on it. She shared that with the Senate leadership at the time.”
He continued, “However, a better time to introduce this concept is while you are constructing a state budget, which is right now. The governor is finalizing her numbers and they will include a repeal of the tax on groceries, the largest tax decrease in the history of South Dakota” [Mercer, 2022.10.28].
If Noem was interested in repealing the food tax last year, then why didn’t she say so? Why didn’t she put it in last year’s budget proposal? If she couldn’t do the math to turn the $85.9-million surplus Uncle Sam and wind farms helped us run in Fiscal Year 2021 into the basis for food tax relief, why didn’t she say during the 2022 Session, “I want to repeal the food tax, but we need to find $35 million more to make it happen right now. Legislators, work with me, and we can repeal the food tax without falling over Lee’s fiscal cliff“?
Last Session, Noem expressed no support for repealing the food tax. She expressed no disappointment that she couldn’t fit the Democrats’ perennial good idea into the FY2023 budget. She offered no promise to spend all of this year looking for a way to fit a food tax repeal into the next budget she brings. Throughout the Session, Noem consistently said repealing the food tax is bad fiscal policy that leads to a worse tax system.
Partridge, Fury, and Noem have said nothing to build confidence that the Governor really supported a food tax repeal last winter or that she really supports one now. All Partridge and Fury have affirmed with their spin is Noem is two-faced, that she will say the opposite of what she means without apology and keep the public in the dark about her real policy agenda.