- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A plurality of South Dakota voters favor expanding the federal Medicaid program in the state and nearly two-thirds favor increasing teacher salaries with a 1-cent summer sales tax, according to a poll commissioned last week by two Sioux Falls media companies.

The poll, which was conducted between Oct. 20 and 23 by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, surveyed 800 registered voters in the state and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent. The Argus Leader and KELO-TV sponsored the poll (https://bit.ly/ZSaKED ).

The poll asked voters about the upcoming midterm elections and included questions about the two issues that have been a key point of debate in the state’s race for governor. Incumbent Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard is being challenged by Democratic Rep. Susan Wismer and independent candidate Mike Myers.

Of the voters polled, 45 percent said that South Dakota should expand Medicaid in the state in line with the original intent of the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-seven percent of voters said they oppose expanding the program that uses federal and state money to give health insurance to people who cannot afford it otherwise. Eighteen percent said they’re undecided.

When looking at party lines, 73 percent of Democrats said the program should be expanded while only 25 percent of Republicans agreed. Forty percent of independent voters also supported an expansion.

When it comes to increasing teacher salaries, 63 percent of polled voters said the state should create a 1-cent sales tax for June, July and August. About 33 percent said they oppose the idea and 4 percent said they’re undecided.

Educators say the shortage of qualified teachers in South Dakota has worsened this year, with reports from officials showing that schools are having more trouble than ever hiring qualified instructors. South Dakota ranks last in the nation for teacher pay, according to the National Education Association.

While only a majority of Democrats polled said they supported expanding Medicaid, more than half of Democrat, Republican and Independent voters said a 1-cent summer sales tax should be used to raise teacher salaries.

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Information from: KELO-TV, https://www.keloland.com

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