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NBP Finds Sales Tax Increase Winning; Test That Result in Madville Times Poll!

Hey, readers! Want to test the Nielson Brothers polling results on Initiated Measure 15 and Referred Law 16? Vote now in the latest Madville Times ballot measure poll!

The inspiration for this poll is Nielson Brothers Polling's release of another chunk of results from its 2012 South Dakota Labor Day Survey. NBP finds that South Dakota voters are leaning toward passing Initiated Measure 15, the extra-penny state sales tax to increase funding for K-12 education and Medicaid:

NBP finds that 43.7 percent of South Dakota likely voters plan to vote for Initiated Measure 15, while 31.7 percent plan to vote against it, and 24.6 percent are undecided. Republicans are evenly split on the measure (37.8 percent "for" and 37.9 percent "against"), but Democrats support it by a 2 to 1 ratio (50.3 percent "for" and 25.5 percent "against"). Similarly, Independents support it 49.2 to 28.2 percent. Approximately a quarter of each political party remains undecided. Voters who associate themselves with the Tea Party are most likely to oppose the measure (46.6 percent "against"), and those who consider themselves Liberals are most likely to support it (64.5 percent "for") [Nielson Brothers Polling, press release, September 24, 2012].

My crystal ball says undecideds will look at the ballot, see the words "increase" and "taxes," and break 2 to 1 against IM 15. But if the decideds stay steady, defeating the ed/med extra-penny sales tax will required the undecideds to break 3 to 1.

Such strong support for a tax increase seems remarkable given that (1) this is South Dakota and (2) NBP also finds 51.2% of respondents feeling less confident about their economic situation than last year. But maybe South Dakotans realize that the proper response to tough economic times is to invest more in education and the social safety net.

Nielson Brothers did not poll the referred laws this time. They tackled Referred Law 16 in July and found voters leaning against Governor Daugaard's school-wrecking plan, but by a smaller margin, 38 to 30. These results seem to fit with the best guesses of a majority of you, dear readers, who in an April Madville Times poll rejected the thesis of a few school administrators that challenging the Governor's education bill on the ballot would hurt the chances of passing the extra-penny sales tax.

So let's see where all three ballot measures stand. Check the sidebar here, and you'll find Madville Times poll questions on all three ballot measures:

  1. Referred Law 14: the Governor's "Large Project Development Fund," which transfers 22% of the contractors excise fund to a slush fund for the Governor to hand out as corporate welfare to hand out to the fattest cats.
  2. Initiated Measure 15: the fifth-cent state sales tax dedicated to funding K-12 public schools and Medicaid.
  3. Referred Law 16: the Governor's education reform package, which includes merit pay for 20% of teachers, state-mandated teacher evaluations based largely on standardized test scores, the elimination of continuing contract due process rights for teachers, and a scholarship program for 100 new teachers a year.

Remember: A Yes vote means you want to enact the measure; a No vote means you to stop the measure from becoming law.

These three poll questions stay open until Thursday breakfast time, after which we'll analyze the results. Vote now, and tell your friends!


  1. Michael Black 2012.09.25

    I have a few reservations about the proposed 25% tax increase:

    1. The additional money is not necessarily going to the schools. What is to stop the legislature from keeping the same funding level?

    2. What are we spending the additional funds on? Are we going to have innovative programs that help kids learn more or will we have the money fund teacher bonuses?

  2. Mike 2012.09.25

    Michael, the wording of the bill states that this cannot be offset from the funding formula. Now, Daugaard has made the funding formula a moot issue, I think that trying to purposely off-set the amount to keep the same level would actually be something many of the Republican reaps would distaste and could potentially lead to some legal action against the governor and the state.

    Your second question is a very good one. I think many schools would probably use it to bring back some teachers, programs, and other things that had to be let go. During the District 6 debate most, if not all of the candidates, stated that education funding needs to be one of the biggest areas to improve education. The pointed out the growing class sizes in Tea, Lennox is hanging in there, but could do a lot more for early education and bringing in more programs for students. I am sure you might see teachers in your school district get a raise of 3 or 4 percent for a couple of the years, but the vast majority I think would be used to develop and strengthen new programs.

    I think many school districts are not doing a lot of talk about how the money would be spent because it is not liked they have been able to count on anything the last few years.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.25

    Good reminder, Stan! Since that NBP survey a year ago, Dems and Indies flipped and the GOP went from strong opposition to a split. Remarkably, undecideds blossomed from 9% a year ago to 25% now. What's up with that?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.25

    I agree, Mike: if voters had a roadmap of how the money would be spent, they might be more inclined to support the tax increase. I understand Michael's concern about guaranteeing the money goes to the stated programs. The law is written as tightly as it can be to guarantee ed and med get the money, but where there's a will, there's a way. And if, as you noted on another comment, hardly anybody is showing up for legislative candidate forums, if they aren't listening to the candidates and holding legislators accountable for votes, what's to stop legislators from amending the law once voters pass it?

  5. judy 2012.09.25

    Stan Gibilisco and Cory,

    The two Nielson polls which Stan references were a year apart and the Nielson's asked the question differently in both.

    In 2012 they specified the new revenue would be designated for education and medicaid. In addition the initiative supporters, two very large statewide constituencies, educators and health care organizations, have had a year to inform their members of their support.

    Nielson's 2011 poll only asked if voters supported a sales tax increase to replace spending cuts. It did not specify that the money would be used for either education or health care.

    It is easy to imagine why the two questions, a year apart, would yield different results.

    For comparison purposes the two questions are quoted below.

    Question in 2012 poll. "Initiated Measure 15 would increase the state general sales and use tax rate from 4 percent to 5 percent. The additional revenue would be split evenly between K-12 public education and Medicaid. If you plan to vote for this measure....

    Question in 2011 Labor Day poll. "In light of state budget cuts, some support a one percent sales tax increase from 4 to 5 percent. If you would support a one percent sales tax increase ..."

  6. Stan Gibilisco 2012.09.26

    As I write this, Cory, your own poll shows 54% in favor of the tax, 46% against, with 110 total votes.

    I would imagine that most of the people who follow this blog are relatively liberal, so the poll would be skewed somewhat in favor of the tax.

    I think it's a toss-up.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.26

    Good analysis, Judy! Indeed, those questions are different. If anything can tip the balance in favor of a tax hike, it's an explanation that we'll use that revenue for specific good purposes.

    But even with those good purposes, I think you're right, Stan, that it's a toss-up at best.

  8. Les 2012.09.26

    There is no guarantee of how that money will be spent Cory.

    When asked on the issue of taking money from the Aero Fund specifically funded by pilots for airport funding and sent down the DUSEL hole, some legislators said its not right but we have that authority. There was also a slew of other misinformation shoveled by the last two gov's to keep the sheep lined out in these thefts. This money did not come from the Feds, it was used to match fed money.

    Also take our gaiming revenue for education and of course it goes into ed, but something is missing.

    You should know by now Cory, new taxes only guarantee more taxes.

Comments are closed.