Hey, eager readers! The latest Madville Times poll asks you this pressing question:

How will referring HB 1234 to a public vote affect the chances of passing the extra-penny sales tax?

  • Tax less likely to pass
  • No effect either way
  • Tax more likely to pass

Register what you think in the poll atop the near-right sidebar. If you want some help weighing the options, consider the following opinions:

Mitchell School District Superintendent Joe Graves and other supes want you to believe that the South Dakota Education Association's current effort to place Governor Dennis Daugaard's education reform legislation on the November ballot will "confuse" voters and hurt the chances of passing the extra-penny sales tax that SDEA helped place on this year's ballot. The $175–$180 million generated by that tax would be split evenly between K-12 education and Medicaid.

Fellow educator and blogger LK contends that the supes' doubts are just groundwork for scapegoating teachers if the sales tax measure fails. LK is at least right to suggest that the supes aren't stating their full reason for trying to tell teachers to stop their referendum drive, since it doesn't make much sense for superintendents to think that teachers are incapable of educating the electorate on the main points of two independent ballot measures.

Frequent commenter Troy Jones says some "smart electoral Dems" fret to him that the opportunity to reject HB 1234 will serve as a sort of safety valve, allowing voters to do something good for education (and yes, rejecting HB 1234 will be very good for education) and soothe their conscience with that good deed as they turn down the sales tax. Jones's thesis rejects the "voter confusion" argument: voters have to understand the ballot measures pretty clearly to carry out such conscientious calculus. But I wonder: I know a few smart Dems, and none of them have expressed such a fear to me.

Neighbor Charlie Johnson got me thinking that we can at least make an argument that the presence of HB 1234 should drive more yes votes on the sales tax. If folks really think HB 1234's merit pay and bonuses for math-science teachers are good ideas, they have an obligation to find a way to pay for those new policies. When they vote yes on HB 1234, they'll have a funding mechanism right across from their pencils on the ballot. Perhaps good conscience will strike these policymakers and drive them to pay for the reforms they want.

Now tell us all what you think! Vote above, then register your analysis here in the sidebar. South Dakota awaits your profound punditry!

Poll stays open until Wednesday breakfast, after which we'll discuss the results. Vote now... and tell your friends!