By Billy Stitz
Initiated Measure 15 was one of eight ballot questions that South Dakota voters had to make a decision about on election day last Tuesday and with 56.72% of those voters checking the ‘no’ box, the measure was denied.
The idea behind measure 15, according to the ballot, was to “increase state general sales and use taxes for additional K-12 public education and Medicaid funding.” In other words, it would have increased the general sales tax in South Dakota one penny with that money going towards school and Medicaid funding.
‘Yes’ was the unpopular vote amongst South Dakota voters but both Colman-Egan and Flandreau Superintendents believed that it would have been a major benefit for schools across the state.
“I was hoping it would pass so schools would have a better view of funding in the upcoming years. I knew it would be a tough battle as no one likes to see taxes increase - even if it is for a very worthy cause,” said Rick Weber, Superintendent at the Flandreau Public School.
The money certainly have helped the schools - two years ago, they received a 10% cut in funding that set their funding numbers back to what they were in 2002. Weber was hopeful the measure would pass with a fear that more and more school will have to opt out in the near future and avoid property tax increases in those districts.
Weber was not alone in that fear, Colman-Egan Superintendent Darold Rounds shared similar feelings, “As a superintendent I wish it would have passed as Colman-Egan has never opted out and even though we don't plan to in the near future, we are starting to see some financial concerns down the road.” Rounds went on to say, “It could come back to haunt us.”
Despite the feelings of local school personnel, just about 54% of Moody County residents voted against the measure. Statewide voters had the same feeling, voting 56.72% against the measure.
Referred Law 16 fell to the same fate as Measure 15. RL 16, which would have created a merit system for teachers, was overwhelming denied by both State and Moody County voters. Statewide, 67.23% of voters voted against the Referred Law. Moody County took it one step further, voting over 71% ‘no’ on the issue.
Moody County voters also agreed with the statewide vote on Referred Law 14 and Constitutional Amendments M, N, O and P.