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Voters don't smell a free lunch

South Dakota State Roundup

July 1, 2004

Voters don't smell a free lunch

Politicians are again attempting to repeal the state's food tax, this time via ballot, but it is uncertain whether voters will pass it.

As the fedgazette reported in May, the state Legislature created a program to exempt low-income households from the tax. That initiative came on the heels of a legislative effort to repeal the tax entirely, which did not pass.

Now, voters will face the question in November on the general election ballot. A recent poll conducted by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and KELO-TV found 42 percent of likely voters in favor of the repeal and 43 percent opposed, with 15 percent undecided.

Officials estimate that repealing the tax would result in $60 million of lost revenue for the state, cities and tribes. However, the state would save $5 million on the current food tax-exemption program targeting those with incomes under 150 percent of the poverty line. The food tax would also still apply to candy and soft drinks.

Joe Mahon