Smith weighs in on food sales tax cut, revenue from legal marijuana taxes

Candidate thinks revenue from legal cannabis taxes can help replace revenue from a food sales tax cut
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 11:02 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The November election is about three weeks away, and campaigns are hitting the home stretch.

Democratic candidate for governor Jamie Smith was the guest at today’s Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary meeting.

All three candidates were invited -- but Smith was the only one to attend.

Several topics at the forum were broached, but the first one was Gov. Kristi Noem’s recent proposal to eliminate the state’s food tax, a reversal of course for her.

Smith called that proposal a “political stunt,” and once again pointed out the idea had already been put forward by state legislators for over 20 years, including a proposal from Smith himself in recent years as the House of Representative’s minority leader.

“She knows she needs to have a tax cut somewhere that she hasn’t been able to do,” Smith said.

Smith criticized Noem for not calling a special session of the legislature to eliminate the food sales tax, citing her remarks at an appearance at a Sioux Falls grocery store last week.

“She looked at the camera kind of shocked and she was like, ‘well, I don’t have the votes for it,” Smith said. “Well, OK, my job would be to work to get the votes. We did get the votes in the House this year to pass it. We sent it over to the Senate, but it got a kill order, I’m sure of it, because the way it down was....”

Smith then mimicked with hand gestures and a whistling noise the sight and sound of a flying object crashing to the ground.

When asked about how the state could replace the revenue it gains from the food sales tax, Smith, unsolicited, brought up one of three statewide measures that will be on the November ballot.

He is a proponent of Initiated Measure 27, which would legalize recreational cannabis.

”First of all, I think (IM 27 is) going to pass this year, and we’re going to have a new thing to tax,” Smith said. “A good friend of mine from the past said that we don’t need to tax things more, we need to new things to tax, and we think we’re going to get one.”

A few moments later, he said, “there will be more funds that come in because of this, and those are areas where I think we can use the tax money from this to help support mental health in this community.”

A couple hours later, Gov. Noem’s campaign website issued a statement with the headline: “Jamie Smith: ‘We Need More Things to Tax.’”

The start first two lines of the statement read:

Today, at an event with the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary, Jamie Smith told the audience that “We need more things to tax.” He then doubled down, saying “I’m advocating for taxes on new things.” You can find a video of Jamie Smith’s remarks here.

“When someone tells you who they are, believe them,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “I have cut taxes for South Dakotans, and my number one priority is eliminating the sales tax on food. Jamie Smith proved today that he can’t be trusted with South Dakota’s finances.

As he did when Noem announced her proposal to eliminate the food sales tax cut, Smith today said that not only is he a proponent of repealing the food sales tax cut, but he has proposed it in the legislature, and it had been proposed for over two decades.

Dakota News Now reached out to Gov. Noem’s campaign to find out why she turned down the appearance at the rotary meeting.

Communications director Ian Fury responded by directing Dakota News Now to that very same campaign press release, and did not answer why Noem was not present at the forum.