Smorgasbord of state ballot initiatives

South Dakota State Roundup

Published September 1, 2006  | September 2006 issue

State voters going to the polls in November will need some extra ink to voice their opinion on a handful of referendums on the ballot. Some are of the tinkering variety (restricting the use of state airplanes); others are a bit more controversial (allowing marijuana for medical purposes) or seek to reaffirm traditional conventions (prohibiting the start of the K-12 school year before Aug. 31).

But one measure has some considerable economic consequences. It proposes a dramatic increase in the state cigarette tax from the current 53 cents per pack to $1.53, while upping the wholesale tax on other tobacco products from 10 percent to 35 percent.

Advocates of the measure estimate that the new taxes, if passed in November, would raise an additional $40 million in state revenue annually. Of that new money, $30 million would go to the state's general fund and $5 million to cessation and other anti-tobacco programs; the remaining money would contribute toward property tax reduction and trust funds for education and health care.

This matter has come up several times recently, to different ends. In 2003, the state raised the state cigarette tax from 33 cents to 53 cents. Last year, a bill to raise the tax to the level currently proposed was killed in the Senate Taxation Committee.

Ronald A. Wirtz