South Dakota governor calls for eliminating grocery tax

Jan 10, 2023, 12:36 AM | Updated: 4:20 pm
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at th...

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)

(Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)

              South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)
            
              South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)
            
              State Rep. Kadyn Wittman applauds special guests as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)
            
              Legislators listen as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)
            
              South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)
            
              South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)

Gov. Kristi Noem called Tuesday for using the state’s surplus to eliminate the tax charged on groceries and lower other taxes in a State of the State address that steered clear of the hot-button topic of abortion.

The Republican governor, who is seen as a potential contender for the 2024 White House, delivered her address as the Legislature’s nine-week session began. All eyes are on what lawmakers might do with the state’s $423 million surplus.

Noem said that shoppers are “astonished” when they arrive at the checkout line to pay for their groceries. She said it is so costly that she has watched many shoppers have to put items back on the shelves because they don’t have enough money to purchase them.

“South Dakotans need this relief,” said Noem, whose executive budget calls for repealing the state’s 4.5% sales tax on groceries, a move that would save taxpayers $100 million.

Noem was critical of a proposal to repeal the state grocery tax during the final days of the legislative session in March, but this fall, she changed course and made it a centerpiece of her reelection campaign. She has called repealing the tax her top priority for 2023, arguing that the state’s surplus would cover the revenue loss.

While minority Democrats support the idea, a number of staunch Republicans oppose it, questioning whether the state can absorb the lost revenue.

“We will help every single family in the state,” she said. “And then they have the freedom to decide how to use those dollars to meet their needs in their family.”

Sen. Casey Crabtree, the Republican caucus leader, said he also anticipates sales and property tax reduction proposals. He was vague about the legislation’s prospects of success.

“We’ll see where it all ends up,” he said.

House GOP leader Rep. Will Mortenson said several tax reduction proposals, including the proposed grocery tax cut, will be the subject of debate.

“Of course, as a conservative, I would prefer that no one pay any tax,” he said. “But given that we have limited budget resources, we’ll need to be weighing all these proposals against each other.”

Budget-setting during most of Noem’s first term was filled with state revenues swollen by consumer spending and federal pandemic relief. Lawmakers are also cautioning that those years of plenty — when millions of dollars went to upgrading university campuses and other projects — could soon be over.

Noem also highlighted workforce shortages, noting that the state has 23,000 open jobs. To address that, she called for updating licensing requirements for professional jobs. She said that other states like Arizona that have taken steps to recognize out-of-state licenses have added thousands of workers.

“That’s the kind of drastic workforce boost that we need right here in South Dakota,” she said.

Noem is also calling for improving paid family leave and creating a way for childcare workers to get benefits.

Under her family leave proposal, state employees could get their entire salary paid for 12 weeks, instead of the 60% that is currently offered for eight weeks. The new policy would cover new births or adoptions, as well as taking care of a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition, or a situation where a spouse is called to active-duty military service.

Her plan also calls for allowing private sector companies to be a part of the state’s risk pool, which would make it cheaper for them to offer the benefit, and providing $20 million in grants to incentivize them to participate.

Those proposals are key pieces of her goal of supporting families alongside a bid to uphold the state’s abortion ban, which was triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling. Noem, an ardent abortion opponent, faces a challenge to the ban through a citizen-proposed constitutional amendment that could appear on the 2024 ballot. She never discussed the issue directly in her address, though.

Democratic Sen. Reynold Nesiba was critical of Noem for bypassing the issue.

“At the moment that a woman needs access to reproductive health care, it is far easier for them to simply go somewhere else if they have the means to do that,” Nesiba said. “But one shouldn’t have to leave the state to be able to have access to reproductive health care.”

Noem also notably stepped up her rhetoric against China, touting legislation that would create a board that would review the sale or lease of agricultural land to non-Americans. The move came after she blocked the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from state devices in November 2022 and ordered a review of Chinese investments.

“We can’t allow Chinese interests to purchase any South Dakota ag land, much less any land near any military base or critical state infrastructure,” she said.

____

Associated Press writer Amancai Biraben contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

/// State Sen. Clarence Lam, a Maryland Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins, speaks during...
Associated Press

As many as 80K Marylanders could lose Medicaid eligibility

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients. Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

2 abducted Missouri children found in a Florida supermarket

HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — Two abducted children who had been missing from Missouri for almost a year were found in a central Florida grocery store with their non-custodial mother, who was taken into police custody, authorities said. Kristi Gilley was arrested last Wednesday on an out-of-state fugitive warrant. Court records show Gilley, 36, remained […]
1 day ago
Alex Murdaugh, right, leans over to talk with his attorney Jim Griffin in his double murder trial a...
Associated Press

How the cases in Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial are shaping up

Two weeks into the double murder trial of South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, prosecutors haven’t presented any direct evidence that he killed his wife and son at their home in June 2021. There is no confession, no surveillance camera footage, no recording of the victims’ final moments. If found guilty of murdering his wife, Maggie, […]
1 day ago
People protest against the exclusion of some animals in the new animal protection law, Madrid, Spai...
Associated Press

Spain: Rights groups urge more protection for hunting dogs

MADRID (AP) — Animal rights groups and pet shop owners marched Sunday in separate demonstrations to protest a new animal welfare law proposed by the Spanish government that seeks to advance the protection of animal rights. The draft legislation has fueled criticism by animal rights groups after a last-minute amendment excluded hunting dogs from the […]
1 day ago
RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, pauses as she listens during a news conference about the d...
Associated Press

Tyre Nichols’ mom, chief: Women on two sides of a tragedy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tyre Nichols ‘ mother was just steps away from her son but couldn’t hear his anguished cries. Beaten and broken, struggling to survive, Nichols had called out for her as five Memphis Police Department officers punched him, kicked him, and hit him with a baton after a traffic stop on Jan. […]
1 day ago
FILE - Beyoncé appears at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on March 14, 2021.  (AP Pho...
Associated Press

How to watch the Grammys live (including the red carpet)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Grammys have evolved from their humble beginnings into a daylong feast of music — and there’s many ways to watch the red carpet and show live. Most of the awards are handed out before that during the Premiere Ceremony, which the Recording Academy will stream live Sunday beginning at 3:30 […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
South Dakota governor calls for eliminating grocery tax