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SJR 2: Hunhoff Proposes Public Vote on Corporate Profits Tax to Raise Teacher Pay

Corporate profits peaked under President George W. Bush in 2006 near $1.7 trillion. The recession then plunged corporate profits to $1.0 trillion by the 2008 election. (Check that: during the economy's nadir, corporations were still coming out ahead.) Since the election of radical Marxist redistributionist Barack Obama, corporate profits have more than doubled to $2.2 trillion. Hmmm... so Obama hasn't come for your guns or your profits...

...but wait! President Obama is coming for a chunk of the profits that corporations are hiding overseas. Yesterday the President announced a plan to grab half of the funding for his six-year, $478-billion infrastructure investment plan from a one-time, 14% tax on current overseas corporate profits stashed overseas, plus a 19% tax on future overseas profits that opponents say still helps big corporations dodge their fair share of taxes.

Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton) would like us South Dakota voters to talk about taxing corporations to fund education. Senate Joint Resolution 2 would place this brief, straightforward proposal for a constitutional amendment on the 2016 general election ballot:

The Legislature shall impose an education franchise tax by imposing a tax on the profits of corporations doing business in South Dakota. However, this section does not apply to any insurance company subject to a tax on gross premiums or financial institution subject to the bank franchise tax. The revenue and interest generated by the tax, less the cost of administration, is dedicated to improving the salaries of elementary and secondary public school teachers. The Legislature shall establish the rate of taxation.

Senator Hunhoff's proposal recognizes that South Dakota already imposes income taxes on bankers and insurers (which taxes have yet to lead to an exodus of bankers and insurers). SJR 2 gives the Legislature control over the tax, allowing it to set the rate based on the economy, the needs of the school districts, whatever may come up each session. SJR 2 goes and gets money that President Obama won't be taking, since U.S. Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds will surely work their darnedest to prevent that federal tax from happening. As is Bernie's wont, SJR 2 comes from a bipartisan team of sponsors, including Senator Hunhoff's Highway 50 neighbor Rep. Ray Ring (D-17/Vermillion) and veteran West River legislators Sen. Bruce Rampelberg (R-30/Rapid City) and Rep. Thomas Brunner (R-29/Nisland). These Republicans can sponsor this bill without saying they are advocating a new tax; they could vote for it and contend that they just want the people to decide if a corporate tax is an appropriate way to raise teacher salaries (which would be a nice counter to the impression their Gettysburg colleague Senator Corey Brown is creating that Republicans don't trust voters).

As I noted Saturday, the richest South Dakotans have been surfing that wave of corporate profits to claim more than 50% of our state's post-recession income growth. The average one-percenter in South Dakota makes 31.7 times as much as the average teacher in South Dakota, a disparity that is higher only in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Connecticut. Don't count the top 1% or earners, and South Dakota teachers still make 21.2% less than the average individual income.

Moving some income from the corporate tier, where profits have doubled since the recession, to the teachers who build the corporate workforce seems just. Let's put SJR 2 on the ballot and debate a corporate profits tax in 2016.


  1. Roger Elgersma 2015.02.03

    Perfectly fair. Some or all of that corporate profit is money made here that was put overseas by companies with overseas head offices so they would not have to pay taxes here. The IRS had been taxing whatever money came home so they kept it overseas. Now that money will not only be taxed as it should since much of it was made here, but that money will come home to be invested here. That will boost both the tax revenue and the economy at the same time. Money hungry Republicans did not have the foresight to see this. So obviously they have been paid by those corporations not to notice. They were actually fiscally smart enough that they could have seen such a win-win situation. I had seen this in the paper yesterday or today and thought about writing in the paper about it. But the blogs are a great place as well.
    ps had my ninetieth letter in the Argus today. But blogs are better for discussion. All media is good since we have the constitutional right to say what we think. In some countries they can just think.

  2. Bob Klein 2015.02.03

    Mr. Hunhoff is a serious legislator dealing with serious issues. SD would be well served with more such legislators.

  3. Les 2015.02.03

    Your guy finally headlines some good legislation and mans up looking like a potential leader. Where've you been gone so long, Bern?

  4. leslie 2015.02.04

    make him your guy, les.

  5. Anne Beal 2015.02.04

    From figured I've seen, Teachers make about 110% of the average individual income, and that's not adding in the pensions, paid holidays, sick leave, jury duty etc that are a fantasy for most of the rest of workers here.
    I was trying to figure out how the state ranks on per pupil expenditure and the most recent one I could find ranked SD at 39th. So, 39th for per pupil expenditures but 50th for teacher pay? That tells you that the school boards have more important things to spend money on than the teachers. In their minds. Maybe the teachers should ask where the money goes?

  6. tara volesky 2015.02.04

    Anne makes some very good points. The Mitchell school board has been planning their posh Stand alone FAC the will be the biggest in the state. Watch out Sioux Falls and Rapid City, Mitchell is going to one up you. There focus is on the FAC while letting the HS deteriorate.

  7. mike from iowa 2015.02.05

    At one time when wingnuts had control of all three branches of gubmint,I think their plan was to drop the tax on repatriating korp profits to 5% and basically let them bring all that money home for nothing.

    Should be taxed at 100% to teach them crooks a lesson in humility.

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