Does tax increase have a shot?

The title of this post? Some would say there’s an easy answer: No.

Not a snowball in July’s hopes. Longer odds than a Democrat being elected speaker of the South Dakota House. Less chance than a grade school team vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Or at least that’s what history and the current economy would indicate. The group Moving South Dakota Forward disagrees. And it plans to work in the next 12 months to make you see things their way.

The group feels it can “educate” voters to raise the state sales tax from 4 cents to 5 in order to raise up to $180 million annually, with the money to be split between K-12 education and Medicaid. It will be on the ballot on Nov. 6, 2012.

Two longstanding organizations, the South Dakota Education Association and the South Dakota Association of Health Care Organizations, formed the campaign committee.

I reported the fact that the group had collected enough names to make the 2012 ballot for the Monday paper. And they did it in two months, which says something of their ground game.

It was apparent in talking with the campaign manager, Andy Wiese, that they were way over and in the end, they had double the number required. Wiese comes from a Flandreau Democratic clan and has worked on several campaigns, including a couple of the unbeaten Tim Johnson, the quiet champion of SD political history.

Here’s the release from Secretary of State Jason Gant announcing the petitions have been turned in on deadline day, Tuesday.

Do they have a chance? Will South Dakotans hike their own cost for items they buy daily to help fund schools and pay for health care? Can the case be made during these tough times to persuade you to increase your taxes for kids and sick people?

Is a sales tax too regressive? Will it ask the poor and working class to bear too large a burden for these apparently worthy goals?

Does a presidential year help or hurt? Will candidates take sides on this? Will it drive a big turnout?

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