Monday, December 1, 2008

More cigarette tax logic goes up in smoke

Louisville Courier Journal columnist Joe Gerth quotes Kentucky's House Democrats saying something nonsensical:

"After he had requested a budget that included no tax increases, members of the House leadership went to Gov. Steve Beshear and told them that they could pass a budget that helped the state’s economic problems by raising the state cigarette tax by 25 cents per pack."

Someone is confused.

Which House Dems really think that a cigarette tax increase will "help the state's economic problems?" How would that work?

Or did Gerth get his wires crossed?

If you're keeping score at home, the proposed cigarette tax increases are supposed to cause people to quit smoking while simultaneously raising revenue for state appropriators. Then the bonus revenues are supposed to fund bureaucracies for education and fill funding gaps in the state employee benefits plans.

With such a dizzying array of skills for one little old tax increase, it's almost hard to remember there is a positive impact in refraining from taxing additional funds away from consumers.

Perhaps that's the point.

Those who would save the state with a tax increase should have to settle on one story and explain how it would really benefit anyone.


Anonymous said...

Kentucky is not going to fix its tax situation by raising the cigarette tax. the cigarette tax is not broken - the tax system is broken.

A quarter here or there is more tax dollars available to spend but it is not a cure for the underlying problem

David Adams said...

And it's not even a sure thing that raising the tax provides more revenue to spend. If it causes more people to buy cigarettes on the black market and/or causes fewer people to come across from other states to buy cigarettes and other things, it could make for less revenue.

The case for a cigarette tax unravels pretty fast if you stop and think about it.