Here’s the source for a big chunk of the money paying for the advertising blitz in favor of Initiated Measure 15, which would increase South Dakota’s sales tax on most items to 5 percent, from the current 4 percent, with the proceeds to be split between K-12 school districts and Medicaid funding. The campaign money is coming largely from the Big Three of healthcare in South Dakota — Avera, Sanford and Rapid City Regional — along with a handful of smaller centers. According to pre-election campaign finance filings, together they’ve donated more than $888,000 to a committee called Healthy Communities that in turn donated the money to Moving South Dakota Forward, the main committee promoting the tax increase. In rough numbers, each of the Big Three contributed in the neighborhood of $300,000 apiece.
Moving South Dakota Forward also received $200,000 from the National Education Association, according to its report, as well as what appearst to be a total of $10,000 in donations from the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations. Moving South Dakota Forward, which was formed by the South Dakota Education Association and SDAHO, reported spending $970,462.79 so far and had $145,977.88 cash on hand at the reporting deadline.
Then there is the token opposition. The No on 15 committee, which wasn’t officially organized until early October, reported spending $15,885.09 and had $25,374.91 cash on hand. The biggest contributors to the No on 15 effort were Harvey Jewett of Aberdeen, who gave $10,000, and Dusty Johnson’s old PUC campaign committee, which donated $3,000.