The Louisville Courier Journal dispatched three Frankfort reporters to take the temperature of the state Senate on what seems to be the paper's last big idea:
"Health advocates are gearing up to persuade lawmakers of the need to approve a hike of at least 70 cents to discourage smoking, particularly among youths, and also to bring in desperately needed revenue."
This dual purpose (cutting smoking and raising revenue) is pretty silly as far as empty promises go. But the hilarious part is the leap the reporters took from the tepid response they got to the conclusion they drew:
"But a Courier-Journal survey found substantial support for an increase to offset a potentially huge budget shortfall that would force more cuts in state agencies already slashed in the 2008 budget."
The "substantial" support includes twenty Senators who said they would either vote for, consider, or not rule out a cigarette tax increase.
In other words, there is insufficient support in the Senate for a cigarette tax increase.
My favorite part of the article came when Sen. Tom Buford told the reporters he could potentially support a tax increase of up to $3 a pack.
Though it would be nice if the Republican Senators explained that they oppose cigarette tax increases because they don't support terrorism, I'm sure they had a good time putting on a team of harried reporters.