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Small School District Wants IM 15 Passed

November 5, 2012, 6:00 PM by Hailey Higgins

Small School District Wants IM 15 Passed
COLTON, SD -

Tuesday, South Dakota voters will decide if they want to permanently raise the state's sales tax.

A “yes” vote to Initiated Measure 15 would add a penny to every dollar you spend.  The money would go to K through 12 public education and Medicaid.

Tri Valley School district, just northwest of Sioux Falls, is one of many districts hoping for the passage of Initiated Measure 15.

The superintendent there says his district will face some tough decision if it doesn't pass.  But opponents to the ballot issue say the penny tax increase creates winners and losers -- and the losers are South Dakotans.

School districts could receive an estimated $700 per student if Initiated Measure 15 is approved by South Dakota voters. And at Tri Valley School District that totals more than half a million dollars.

"Initiated Measure 15 wouldn't enhance any programs; it would just sustain the programs we currently have," Superintendent Mike Lodnel said.

The district faces a $271,000 deficit and they've cut the preschool and after-school programs. If Initiated Measure 15 doesn't pass, Lodnel says it forces the district down to two options.

"We will have to opt out of local property taxes or make significant and drastic cuts and reductions to programs and people so it is very important for our school district," Lodnel said.

And while former lawmaker and businessman Ron Williamson agrees schools are under funded, he argues the one cent sales tax increase is the wrong solution.

"I am concerned that Initiated Measure 15 is the largest tax increase we've had in South Dakota," Willamson said.

In addition to public schools, the measure also will use the tax to fund Medicaid.

"The winners being obviously these two groups and the losers being the taxpayer; families that have to pay sales tax on food, clothing and school supplies," Williamson said.

If passed, the Initiated Measure 15 could generate an estimated $180 million through a 25 percent tax increase.

The money would be evenly split between education and Medicaid.

There are seven ballots issues to be decided in South Dakota on Election Day.  Are you familiar with them all? Visit the Ballot Issues page on KELOLAND.com that breaks it all down for you with pro and con statements from each side of the issue.

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