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Sen. Tim Rave talks alcohol tax and school funding


Sioux Falls, S.D. (KELO AM) - For some counties in western South Dakota, a lack of population alone makes financing their needs a challenge.  Besides property taxes, other means are needed to keep some counties going throughout the year and it takes Senate members from each of the South Dakota district to figure out how.

“For some counties, there aren’t nearly enough people to meet the needs; especially out west,” said Timothy Rave, South Dakota Senator, 25th District.  “It sounds like people want to raise alcohol taxes and take the cap off of property tax to raise them to an unlimited number.  No tax should ever be unlimited and I see it being met with great resistance.” 

Rave said, when you look at our taxes, compared to others, we are always right in the ballpark.  There has been a nickel-a-drink proposal, and people will recognize we are higher than surrounding states.  He has always considered it a bad idea.   

“If people run across the border to buy their alcohol and tobacco products, we will get no taxes at all,” said Rave.  “There needs to be a lot of discussion on it and I will need to be convinced that it is a good idea before I am sold on it.” 

Rave said the Formula for the School Aid bill is another matter to be aware of.  It has been out there for 11 years; since he came into office and when you look at South Dakota compared to other states, we are actually doing a good job.  At this time, were talking about closing schools like in some other states. 

“The formula is fairly equitable, but other counties have other monies coming in from gas pipelines that cross them, traffic tickets and bank franchise fees,” said Rave.  “It’s true that some counties get more money from others, but it’s from the other monies and not what is coming from the state.  No one wants to look at what they get and ask that half of their school aid go to another district, but that is something that is going to be visited down the road.”

Rave said he didn’t think the School Aid Formula would ever be fully funded.  If the state put in 300-million this year; then 300-million and next year there would have to be 300-million plus three percent.  No matter whether there is enough money or not, each school district is different and we have to go out there to make the tough decision as to what we get.

“Besides school needs, we need to fund sick people who can’t take care of themselves and highway patrolmen who are working hard; that’s why we have these discussions,” said Rave.  “County needs are going to be the big issue this legislative session coming up.  We are studying the pros and cons of expanding Medicaid and the ramifications that will have on the state and there will be an educational paper coming out on that next week.” 

“A lot of our healthcare systems are doing their fair share dealing with charitable care and by that I mean bad debt,” said Rave.  “The hundreds of millions of dollars out there will never be paid, and the rest of us will pick that up through insurance premiums.  I’m not convinced that expanding Medicaid  will not solve all our problems, and when people see how much money is out there that will never be paid back, they will be shocked.

Senator Tim Rave was interviewed on the Greg Belfrage Show August 12, 2013.

To hear the interview, please go to the KELO AM Podcasts at: http://kelo.com/podcasts/greg-belfrage-show/742/sen-tim-rave-talks-alcohol-tax-and-school-funding/