Given Governor Kristi Noem disagreement with the President of the Senate pro-tempore Lee Schoenbeck and House Speaker Spencer Gosch on his position on repealing the food sales tax in the 2022 legislative session, put Noem’s own words during the session on the record.
In addition to Noem’s comments object to any reduction in sales tax in early February, Noem sat down for a discussion, told reporter Joe Sneve, in a interview broadcast live on March 8, 2022, that the proposals to repeal the food tax and reduce the overall sales tax rate were intended to impose a state income tax. She said the sales tax cuts would force the state to make painful budget cuts comparable to those 10% deep cuts this Governor Dennis Daugaard and the Legislature had to train in 2011 reconcile a serious structural deficit. She said elected officials who propose a food tax cut without providing details of what programs they will cut to make the food tax repeal work are not having an honest debate.
[6:12] Sneve: Well there were two proposals both died in the senate one to cut the sales tax by half a dime and then yesterday a bill was hoghouse to have a repeal of the sales tax on food which is also dead. You’ve been resistant to that though. Is it… because you don’t think things are going to be this rosy for so long?
Noah: Well, it’s just… I think they’re charging us income tax. I think they know when they come up with something like this it’s not viable as far as our current programs and they know they will put South Dakota in a position to come in – have an important debate on income tax within two or three years
Sneve: Isn’t this the way to counter this that could force the government’s hand to reduce its scope of action and make cuts all along the line?
Noah: None of these lawmakers was here the last time they had to make major cuts to state government. It was quite a painful process…those 10% cuts that happened at all levels under Governor Daugaard’s administration and you know they’re not debating the 6% increase at all that’s going to to education, state employees and health care providers, but making these cuts is a painful process and none of these legislators who are proposing—it’s always interesting to me—to propose these important programs n offer savings.
I had a legislator in my office yesterday who said I should build housing for low income people and children who don’t have homes, and I said well did you introduce a bill about this session? And they didn’t.
So often they throw things at me and they didn’t offer a solution for where to cut. So if they’re considering cutting state government spending, I haven’t seen these homeowners come up with big bills to cut programs this year. I haven’t seen it and if they brought any and Larry can give a little perspective I guess on what it’s like in state government but we – I offered discounts taxes this year. I offered to tighten our belts and we reduced the number of full-time employees in the state government. We let the leases go on the state government, we do. But forcing something like that is just preparing the state for an income tax….
[11:00] Noah: So while they’re proposing to eliminate the sales tax on food—I understand that debate. We had—when I was in the Legislative Assembly, I was a member of the tax committee, vice-chair of the tax committee, we debated it every year, and that’s certainly something I know. To talk about it last week and then not come up with cuts for it to actually work or not be palms up and say if we do this you can’t give 6% to education you can’t you can’t raise teachers’ salaries, you can’t pay health care providers, and you can’t raise state employee salaries, because that’s an honest debate, and they don’t have that in this moment… [Governor Kristi Noem, interviewed by Joe Sneve, in “Gov. Kristi Noem Joins State Budget Panel Discussion,” video posted to Governor Kristi Noem Youtube channel, livestreamed 2022.03.08].
Governor Noem did not support the food tax cut last winter. She said repealing the food tax would open the door to an income tax. She said we shouldn’t even be talking about reducing sales tax unless we have an honest discussion about income replacement or expense reductions. Yet since late September, when she backtracked and approved the food tax repeal, Noem has offered no budget cuts or replacement income to make the food tax repeal work.