South Dakota’s IM 25
This November, voters will decide the fate of Initiated Measure 25, a $35 million tax increase in South Dakota. IM 25 imposes a $1 tax increase on each pack of cigarettes and a 57 percent increase on smokeless and other tobacco products, while creating a new government fund for the state’s postsecondary technical institutes.
Tobacco sales make up a significant portion of sales in convenience stores. If IM 25 passes, many retailers could be forced out of business, causing the loss of more than 400 jobs.
IM 25 could lead to more illegal cross-border sales of cigarettes and could result in more people purchasing tobacco products from Native American reservations, the Internet or through increased illicit sales. This increase in untaxed sales would lead to a loss of state tax revenue.
Earlier this year, the South Dakota Legislature rejected a similar proposal (H.B. 1274), voting overwhelmingly to defeat it in committee.
Absentee voting in South Dakota begins September 21 and ballots must be received by 5 p.m. the day before election day.
This November, voters in Montana will decide the fate of Initiative 185 (I-185), a $74 million tobacco tax increase that permanently expands Medicaid.
By permanently expanding Medicaid, I-185 creates more than $60 million in new, permanent spending obligations for taxpayers each year, but dedicates no more than $26 million per year — a fraction of new tax revenue — to cover those costs. That means all Montanans — not just smokers — will be on the hook to make up the difference.
When Montana lawmakers passed Medicaid expansion in 2015, they included a sunset provision in the law to make sure they could evaluate the program’s effectiveness and control costs and spending. But I-185 locks this massive government program in place, bypassing the Legislature and making permanent a program that was designed to be re-evaluated. By eliminating the sunset and making the program permanent, taxpayers will be obligated to spend tens of millions of dollars more without the oversight promised when this program was first created.
- I-185 also continues a flawed work program that was supposed to train Medicaid recipients for higher paying jobs and help get them off government assistance. More than half of the nearly 100,000 people receiving government Medicaid expansion benefits are working-age adults without children, but only 22 percent of them signed up for the work program. The agency responsible for managing the government healthcare expansion—the Department of Public Health & Human Services—has been criticized for misusing taxpayer dollars and been the subject of several critical state audits.
- Proponents say I-185 is about health care, but more than half of the new tax revenue goes to the General Fund and existing programs. I-185’s backers also claim the measure will help veterans, but the fine print of the measure caps veterans’ service support at no more than $2 million per year. And while I-185 raises millions in new tobacco taxes, it only dedicates 4 percent of the revenue to smoking prevention and cessation programs.
- Absentee ballots for federal/state elections are mailed to eligible voters in Montana 25 days before election day and due by noon the day before election day.