The 62-cent increase in federal cigarette taxes going into effect Wednesday is nearly three times as likely to affect low-income Americans as it is to affect high-income Americans. That's because 34% of the lowest-income Americans smoke, compared with only 13% of those earning $90,000 or more per year.Now California is weighing an additional $1 a pack tax that will again hit lower income people the hardest and won't solve any of California's budget problems:
The tax, which would raise an estimated $735 million, is being voted on as California is reeling from a new wave of bad budget news. Gov. Jerry Brown announced last month that the state was facing a deficit of $16 billion, and he proposed a round of severe spending cuts to deal with it.This economy cannot absorb a $735 million tax hike. Even if you don't smoke, this tax will affect you because that money could have been spent by people in your store, or in your town to stimulate the economy rather than getting sucked into some new black bureaucratic hole. Wake up, people. The latest polls show this monstrosity still has 53% support.
But none of the $735 million would go to close the deficit. Organizers argued that the tax would have less chance of passing if voters thought it would go into the state coffers, and said that their only goal here was cutting down on smoking. Raising the cost of tobacco has proved to be the most effective way of discouraging smoking, particularly among teenagers.
“The voters in this state are disinclined to give money — even tobacco money — to the Legislature to spend: they don’t trust them with the money,” said Don Perata, a Democrat and former president pro tem of the State Senate, who is the author of the proposition. “We’ve become such a damned antitax state that we’ve demonized any kind of tax.”
Still, the image of a $735 million windfall rushing in at a time when California is facing a three-week cut in the school year has proved, at the least, discordant. The editorial board of The Los Angeles Times, while proclaiming itself uncomfortable to be siding with the tobacco industry, urged voters to defeat it.
“It just doesn’t make sense for the state to get into the medical research business to the tune of half a billion dollars a year when it has so many other important unmet needs,” it said. And opponents have seized on this as one of their central arguments.
“Isn’t that a little strange?” said Michael C. Genest, a former director of finance for the state who worked as a consultant to the “No on 29” effort, noting that Mr. Brown had just announced the state’s latest budget shortfall. “It’s astonishing to me that someone would go to these lengths to have a major tax increase and none of it would go to the budget.”
One good thing about the article excerpt above, it sounds like California is much less likely to give Gov. Moonbeam what he wants in November in the form of higher taxes. The state has to learn to live within its means and cut programs that are inefficient or failing, duplicated in other state or federal programs, or simply don't affect enough people to make a difference. The governor always threatens to cut schools, police and fire, but if you're a crack whore with six bastard children by four deadbeat fathers, Gov. Brown can't wait to throw money at you while good kids can't have a band program. This state is really screwed up, but the voters can fix it. Throw the bums out.