Step aside Pennington, there's a new liquor tax advocate in town

The Argus Leader is reporting today that after an early term abortive attempt by Pennington Coutny at putting a liquor tax on the ballot, the Minnehaha County Commission is giving up on Delores Coffing getting it done.

After a successful attempt at keeping the cell phone tax this election, they're going to bring it to the legislature in the hopes of getting even more revenue for County Government:
It is past time, some Minnehaha County commissioners think, for county government to benefit from a liquor tax.

That might be something the county board asks lawmakers from Minnehaha County to bring before the state Legislature when it goes into session next year.

The county board is considering several priorities for the 2007 Legislative Session, but they all focus on one concept: money. Besides the liquor tax, their concerns include:

  • Changing the statutes that govern sheriff's fees, which administrative assistant Ken McFarland says "are no longer remotely reflective of what it costs to provide those particular services."

    Setting up a separate distinct levy for ambulance districts, such as the library levy, rather than using general funds.

    Counties, which rely on property taxes for their funding, would benefit if all fee schedules for sheriff's services came from local sales tax options, not state statute, McFarland said.

    and...
  • Commissioner John Pekas recently had lunch with a group of lawyers, and the smokers in the group gave a blunt directive.

    "They said now it's time to raise taxes on alcohol, because if you're taxing me for my sin, you should tax all the drinkers for their sin," Pekas said.

    "The failure to take action speaks volume just as much as doing something in the legislature. ... If we're taxing tobacco, there quite simply is no reason to not tax alcohol."

    Read it all here as you guard your pocketbooks. The counties want revenue. And guess where it's coming from...

    Comments

    Anonymous said…
    This is ridiculous. The counties should not keep raising taxes to fund more new projects. The counties need to plan ahead for upcoming projects instead of resorting to hiking people's taxes for a quick fix to find funding for new projects.
    Anonymous said…
    Joe Sixpack took it in the shorts with 2 HUGE tobacco tax increases in 3 years, and now a booze tax hike?

    If more money is needed, let's slap a tax surcharge on new vehicles over $40,000. South Dakota never wants to tax people who can most afford to pay.
    Anonymous said…
    Anon 12:51....

    In other words "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"?
    Anonymous said…
    South Dakota just had a huge tax increase passed at election time.

    Just think for a moment why the booze tax fails in the legislature.

    Most taxpayers consume alcohol including legislators. The legislators and the general populace don't want to increase their own taxes. Apparently voters wanted to disprortionately tax tobacco users, but this booze tax proposal won't fly.

    I don't care who the tax increase would target, governement would just continue to grow if the booze tax increase goes ahead.
    Anonymous said…
    Tax the Argus Leader and Rapid City Journal and then we will see how righteous each editorial board acts. If it is a sin to lie then tax those newspapers to gain revenue.
    Anonymous said…
    pennington county also gave up on Delores Coffing
    Anonymous said…
    5:15 It really is time for everyone to give up on Delores Coffing, but not over this issue. Clearly, the whole tax situation needs a serious look. 12:51's point about SD making sure that upper incomes don't have to pay more tax certainly has some merit. Quite frankly, the tax on video lottery income isn't high enough yet. As long as we saved it because of the loss of revenue we would suffer without it, let's get some more revenue from it.
    Anonymous said…
    I heard a newly elected County Commissioner from Minnehaha County talking about the same tax on booze. He was on KSOO with Rick Knobe this past week. Don't recall his name. His idea was the property owners should not have to see their taxes raised to help pay for the jailed drunks. His solution would be tax on booze. Made sense to me. Not all this is happening in Pennington County.
    Anonymous said…
    Currently the only sources of significant revenue in most counties are property taxes (limited to CPI increases by the state) and the wheel tax. The counties either need the ability to determine mil levies (and face election by their peers) or another source of revenue. A liquor tax makes sense especially to cover court costs, court appointed attorneys and law enforcement.
    Anonymous said…
    8:54:

    How would we know that all the money raised by the booze tax would be going to law enforcement. Any new taxes would simply subsidize any other spending the commission wanted to engage in.

    If you remember Minnehaha county just opted out for law enforcement or to "jail the drunks"

    County commissioners need to grow some balls and if they want taxes raised they should either do it theirselves, put it to a ballot option, or not do it. Instead they want to pass the political football to the legisalture in order to distribute the political fallout over the entire states.

    This smacks of political cowardice. Put it up to the people or do it yourself and take the heat. I mean if we need it so bad and if us lowly citizens are too unenlightened to undertand the issue, vote to do it and face the music.
    Anonymous said…
    Tax newspapers.
    DP Johnson said…
    Here's a novel idea that no one here has hit on yet. Maybe the state and local government's should cut spending in other areas to pay for these new services.

    Few phrases alarm me more than this quote attributed to Mr. Pekas: "...If we're taxing tobacco, there quite simply is no reason to not tax alcohol." I hope this isn't the logic SD lawmakers and legislators are now using...

    On an unrelated note, I'm working on a new blog with several economics students at USD. If interested, check it out at: www.brutalcandor.typepad.com
    Anonymous said…
    Maybe there are assuming that since the tobacco tax passed by the widest margin of all ballot measures, an alcohol tax would be supported as well.

    I'm not sure that is going to pan out, alot more people drink than smoke.
    Anonymous said…
    I don't drink or smoke, but I don't believe in taxes as social engineering (i.e. to get people to quit smoking or drinking).

    Taxes should be assessed only as necessary - not because something else is taxed (John Pekas's plan). By Pekas's theory, we taxed cigarettes, so there really is no reason not to tax inheritances since people die from smoking.

    Government needs to control its growth before raising any more taxes.
    Anonymous said…
    Last time I checked alcohol didn’t kill 1,200 people a year in SD nor cost the state $58 million in Medicaid.
    Anonymous said…
    7:47:

    yet the new tax on tabacco is not sending anywhere near 58 million to medicaid reimbursement.

    The first 30 million goes into the general fund under the theory that it's replacing the money that otherwise would have been spent but for the 58 million in medicaid expenses.

    If that's the case why not outlaw tobacc? Probably because then there would be nothing to tax.
    mr. morrow said…
    I find the idea of the "Pulp Fiction Tax" to be an excellent extention and application of the concept of the sin tax.
    Anonymous said…
    Folks, I'm a county commissioner in smaller county. When is the last time any of you went into your favorite watering hole and asked "How Much" before ordering your beverage of choice? Everyone gets uneasy when they hear the word "tax", but it's not like they would be looking at $1.00 a drink. Review last year's attempt at trying to get 5 cents. The state mandates where county dollars can go and it's not fair to you, the taxpayers just to "opt out". Pierre says "no new taxes", but that doesn't include "F-E-E-S". Go down to your local clerk of courts and ask for a copy of a public file and when they ask you for $15, remember that $15 is going directly to Pierre, not your county. We do control the wheel tax, after the first two dollars, but that's maxed out at four dollars. Review the minutes & payables from your next county meeting and see what they are paying out in blood alcohol tests and court appointed attorney fees.
    Anonymous said…
    9:14 If counties need more money, they ought to look at the people that have the money. You should push for a tax surcharge on vehicles over $40,000.

    Why does SD keep trying to get more out of middle/lower income people? Could it be that they don't have lobbyists in Pierre?
    Anonymous said…
    On cigs most of the cost is tax not product. I will have to see if I can find the information.

    I say SF and Penn along with the other larger cities in SD need to learn to live within some budgets.

    What in the world happened to the 5-10- and 15 year plans.

    Not everything is suppose to be instant gratification.
    Anonymous said…
    You know charity/organizations can be a good thing and replace some of the governmental aspects in society and I bet they would do a better job.
    All it does is create a bigger government and bigger tax burden and then people get upset with the government because they had to have another program.

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