"If you think you're too small to be effective, then you've never been to bed with a mosquito."
Governor Rounds' 2003 "Parameters for Changes to the Current Tax Structure" includes this principle.:
"Avoid placing additional tax burden on life necessities."
(Ironically, his recommended tax changes that year caused the $10 million increase in the tax on food, and only on food)
"A sales tax on groceries is the cruelest tax that any government can impose."
Senator Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo MS
"The very thing that we raise here we tax.
Food is something that absolutely everyone has to have.
We do not need a sales tax on food."
"Our annual food budget is $130,000. 5% of that is $6,500. That's money that could buy a new lift or ten hospital beds, or many things that could directly affect the lives of our residents. We have no choice. We're going to buy the food. But 5% goes to the tax."
Administrator of Bethel Lutheran Home, Madison SD, commenting on the tax on food paid by nursing homes, even non-profit homes, 2003, when the food tax was 5% (After 1/1/04, he pays 6%.):
Those on fixed income are the ones who will be hurt. - Social Security. Some of these senior citizens can't have part-time jobs because they're not able to work. Their health won't let them. They need prescriptions as well as food.
My diabetes works with food. If you don't have food, you go weird. Then you get a sandwich and you see the difference. Insulin costs me $52 a month. I take it every morning, then I eat at regular times in the day If you don't, you are in trouble. Your food helps your insulin go through the body and keep it going.
Ms. K (diabetic, worried about the tax increase on food), 2004
I think with the price of food and people who don't have much income, it hurts them. People like me, who have to buy medicine - you have less food. And that's why I come here - to make ends meet.
And it's worse in a family with children. Parents might be getting minimum wage and have to pay rent, utilities and buy clothes for the kids. I went through that.
On disability and with the food stamps I get (only $60), I can't buy juice and other things. It's hard. I can't buy much groceries.
Mrs. T., 2004
"The care of human life and happiness is the first and only
legitimate object of good government."
I get $10 food stamps. There’s a problem. I can’t buy much meat. I have to have milk and stuff. Diabetes is expensive. With the price and all the tax on, you can't buy what you need. You can't afford the fruits. I'm grateful when I get a fruit of any type, although I am supposed to eat three a day. We live very sparingly.
At least I get a good meal most days at the Banquet. When they give me food, that keeps me from starving. If they keep raising the food tax, I can’t buy what I need for groceries, because I’m a diabetic. People don’t realize we have kids hungry here too.
I get QMB for medical expenses. I live on Disability Income at $713.00 a month-- for rent and for all the stuff I have to have to keep myself from dying--food, car insurance. If I didn't have a car, I couldn't go any place. Sometimes I have to get to the hospital. I cannot stand at the bus stop because of the cold (health problems). If I need household products or clothes, I can't get them.
The tax increase on food will lower my ability to buy food. They have got to get it off, so I can buy what I really need.
Mr. Curtis P. (elderly man with diabetes) of Sioux Falls, 2004
"How terrible it will be for those who make unfair laws,
and those who make laws that make life hard for people."
"Blessed are those who are concerned for the poor.
The Lord will help them when they are in trouble."
Those pennies - they add up! There has been a lot of people needing help and going to the food pantry.
I used to have a truck and a jeep, a nice apartment and new furniture. I made pretty good money. I lost my job due to lung operations from an infection. [not a smoker]
Now I have diabetes. People don't realize how serious diabetes is. Poor people can't always keep it in check. Diabetes is a killer. You can lose limbs--fingers, toes--, you can lose your life. It is serious. You can go blind. It can cause a heart attack.
The thing about diabetes is you need to eat less carbs and watch your sugar. You can't get by on mac 'n cheese. You have to watch it.
More food tax is going to hurt the poor. Some people only eat two meals a day, or even one.
Boats, snowmobiles, hot air balloons--if the people can afford these, then they should pay a higher tax on them. I think we should take the tax off food.
People are shopping across the state borders to try to save something on their food bills. Whether they come out ahead or not, it matters that we are losing that business to other states.
Mr. Bart S. (diabetic, Sioux Falls)
"The time is always right to do what is right."
M.L. King, Jr.
"The shoes I am wearing, I bought them for $2.78."
[workshoes bought at a thrift store. There is no way he could have bought them in a regular shoe store. He was responding to the info that the cost of buying $20 clothes will go down 2 cents, while the cost of buying $20 groceries will go up 18 cents.]
Mr. Neil Poor Bear
"I have not shopped in a real clothing store for over 20 years."
A typically resourceful woman on disability who exists on $724 in disability income. She has medical expenses, and gets only $10 in food stamps. She must eat right because of diabetes. She worries especially about the children who will have less food because of this tax increase. 2004
The lower the income, the less often people buy clothing and other non-food items.
"Low-income people can buy used clothing; they cannot buy used food."
"No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency."
President Theodore Roosevelt
Margaret shops and cooks for her family of five. When she heard about the tax increase, she realized "That's a dozen eggs!" She explained how she would base meals on the eggs: French toast, egg salad sandwiches, . . . (That's only the increase. Think what the whole tax would buy.)
"I can understand a tax on luxury items or restaurant meals,
but not groceries! Food is the first priority in basics for life."
A few dollars a week could provide the additional food needed by many children in South Dakota to get them across a certain nutritional threshold.
It can make the critical difference between surviving and thriving.
When I was a superintendent of schools, I saw children who fell asleep at their desks.
One child, when asked if he had eaten any breakfast, replied, It wasn't my turn.
Christine Vladimiroff, O.S.B.
"It will be worthy of a free, enlightened... great nation,
to give mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people
always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."
President George Washington, 1796
"I work hard to provide for my family, but the tax takes food off our table. Karen, mother of three
I worry about my 18-year-old daughter, just leaving the household, being able to make what little income she has cover her rent and school and groceries.
Removing the food tax would allow her to put more food on her table.
I would feel better to know that she is eating better.
Karen, mother of three
"If someone is pregnant, the food tax takes nutrition away from unborn children."
Karen, mother of three
"Let us put our minds together and see what life we will make for our children."
Chief Sitting Bull
"I'd rather pay when I die than when I eat."
a man who preferred the inheritance tax to the food tax
"The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much.
It is whether we provide enough to those who have little."
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I receive $734.00 a month Social Security Disability for the Blind. I have to pay for my medical bills.
I had to give up my $30 a month food stamps because my daughter lost her job and her house in Monroe. So she came to Sioux Falls, but she had to take $1.50 per hour decrease in pay in order to have a job. I now have my daughter and her 3 children living with me. I eat at the Banquet because this is my lifeline to survival. Sometimes they give us canned goods and casseroles, which help us enormously.
The price of groceries has gone out of sight. The additional tax would cause me more struggle. I am diabetic and can't always eat what I should. I eat what I have on hand.
Ms. Warne-Davis, 2004
"At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done. Then they begin to hope it can be done. Then they see it can be done. Then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago."
Frances Hodgson Burnett
"The day that hunger is eradicated from the earth, there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world on the day of that great revolution."
Spanish poet Fredrico Garcia Lorca
"Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind.
Did you think you were put here for something less?"
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
Three Businessmen from Hudson SD, on the border with Iowa:
"Even people from Hudson drive to Iowa to save the sales tax. When they go to Iowa to buy groceries, they always pick up a little something else and pay Iowa tax.
It's just a terrible disadvantage to try to be in business on the border. It's always been a problem. If we had an equal footing, we probably would have made it a little longer. It's hard on families with kids."
Bob Torkelson, owned a grocery store in Hudson for 33 years
"We own a business on the state border. People locally here do go to Iowa to shop for groceries. It affects all the businesses here."
"Definitely, it's an economic issue so close to the border. A lot of rural people in Iowa are close to Hudson. 85% of business here is trade with Iowa. But, we're not seeing those people trade here for groceries. If we had groceries without taxes, it would help."
"Between a few hundred and a few thousand people die every year from terrorist acts.
More than 6 million children die every year from hunger-related causes.
Where should our government's spending priorities be?"
James R. Adair, editor
"Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."
"I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
I will not refuse to do something I can do."
Send more testimony to: firstname.lastname@example.org