The Finance Committee has been debating the H. 3584, the bill to increase the cigarette tax. I support raising the tax on cigarettes under certain circumstances. As a healthcare provider, I witness daily the health problems caused by smoking. Cigarette smoking costs the taxpayers millions of dollars a year, and I know that this extra cost is unfair the non-smoking taxpayer.
I favor raising the tax on cigarettes and coupling that tax increase with an equally valuable tax decrease on personal income. Such action would not only depress the incidence of cigarette smoking and its related health care costs but would also return more money to the taxpayers that earned it in the first place. Also, our anemic economy will benefit from the extra money in the pockets of consumers.
On Thursday, 05.07.08, the Senate Finance Committee changed the bill to raise the cigarette tax by 50 cents and creates a “trust” fund. Basically, you’re trusting the Legislature to raise taxes and trusting the Legislature to spend the money. I was born during the day, but not yesterday. I do not trust the legislature spend this money appropriately, therefore, I have joined others in a procedural objection until we can get a clear idea of how this money is used. This bill essentially creates a new trough of your money and creates a political grab bag. For me, the sensible thing to do would be to used these funds for a general income tax cut.
Currently, H. 3584 creates a new cookie jar, or trough for political pork.