Big, BIG, money in two ballot races

The national teachers union is spending a lot of money to influence the outcome of two ballot issues, and the three big hospital systems are also spending large sums of money on one of the issues.

The National Education Association has dumped nearly $525,000 into the No on 16 campaign, seeking to undo the Legislature’s and Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s attempts to revamp teach tenure and to introduce merit pay. The NEA put another $200,000 into Moving South Dakota Forward, the group behind Initiated Measure 15, which would raise the state sales tax by 1 cent.

Moving South Dakota Forward is reporting more than $1 million in contributions. The bulk of that money is coming from the three hospital systems. Rapid City Regional has put in $287,000, while Sanford and Avera Health chipped in nearly $300,000. In a previous report, the systems each reported $25,000 contributions.

Initiated Measure 15 would raise an estimated $180 million a year and be divided equally among Medicaid providers, i.e. hospitals, and education, i.e. teachers.