Senate boss Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) declined to say Tuesday whether Governor Kristi Noem’s promised food-tax repeal was totally dead after Republicans on House Appropriations looked the Governor in the eye and killed her House Bill 1075. But Schoenbeck’s loyal lieutenant Senator Casey Crabtree (R-8/Madison) says the Governor’s grand (Democratic!) campaign promise is mostly dead:
The push for tax relief now moves to the South Dakota Senate, but the chamber’s majority leader says the governor’s call to remove the state sales tax from groceries probably won’t be part of the discussion.
Republican Sen. Casey Crabtree told news reporters Thursday that talks will likely focus on the state sales-tax cut that the House of Representatives approved Wednesday.
He said there also could be consideration of a property-tax cut for homeowners that was set aside by the House Appropriations Committee the day before [Bob Mercer, “Food-Tax Cut Isn’t a Priority in SD Senate, Crabtree Says,” KELO-TV, 2023.02.23].
Not only is the Senate probably not going to try reviving the food tax, but the more handsome chamber is more likely to revisit the property-tax cut floated by Representative Trish Ladner (R-30/Hot Springs). That the mainstream Senate Majority Leader would speak more optimistically about tax-cut bill from a Black Hills back-bencher who runs with the anti-Schoenbeck radicals than about the marquee campaign promise made by his own beloved Governor indicates just how ineffectively Noem has worked to push her policy agenda.
“I don’t think they’re losses,” he said. “If this was baseball, she’d be going in the Hall of Fame” [Mercer, 2023.02.23].
If this Session were baseball, Noem wouldn’t even be a wild card in the playoffs.
Democrats (who have nothing to lose and thus should speak forthrightly like this more often!) more accurately describe Noem’s failure on the food-tax repeal as a failure to exercise basic political skills that should come far more easily to a Republican Governor with a 63% popular mandate and 90% of the Legislature in her party than to wildly outnumbered Democrats:
South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Randy Seiler: “Democrats have long supported cutting the sales tax on food in South Dakota, but Gov. Noem didn’t put in the work to do it right. She didn’t work with stakeholders, including tribal nations, or even show up in the Capitol to speak with legislators about the bill until the last minute. Gov. Noem’s support for cutting the sales tax on food was nothing more than a political stunt to win her an election, and when it came to the hard work of legislating, she let the people of South Dakota down.”
House Democratic Leader Oren Lesmeister (D-28A/Parade): “I wish the Governor would have reached out to our caucus and had a serious conversation with us on this issue, but at this time that has not happened.”
Senate Democratic Leader Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls): “Unlike the Governor, SD Democratic leaders are regularly talking with Republican lawmakers in the Capitol. It was clear to me weeks ago that her 4.5-cent proposal would not get through the SD Senate this year. However, I do believe a 2-cent reduction would have had a chance to pass both the House and the Senate. The Governor should have worked with Democrats and like-minded Republicans on this compromise legislation. My understanding is that she opposed any amendment to her bill. It did not help that she has avoided press conferences with local reporters for the last seven weeks where she could have been promoting this tax reduction to her constituents” [South Dakota Democratic Party, press release, 2023.02.21].
Hey, South Dakota, if y’all just want a Governor who looks cute on a horse, well, I guess, if you squinch your eyes and look from a distance, you’ve got that. But don’t tell me you have an executive who knows how to pass real practical policy.