Kentucky’s Tobacco Tax – Back to the Well Again (11/12/09)
You wouldn’t try to fly to California with only enough fuel for half the trip. So why should we be surprised that Governor Steve Beshear is already talking about asking for another increase in Kentucky’s cigarette tax?
Yes, the state did raise that tax earlier this year. But not nearly enough.
The governor said all along that an increase to a dollar a pack on cigarettes (still lower than the national average of $1.19) was the least that was necessary to address our budget deficit. But our timid legislators once again avoided the tough choice, preferring a halfway nickel-and-dime approach.
And surprise -- it wasn’t enough! While the state continues to swim in red ink, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids points out that the increase the governor asked for – as opposed to the one he got -- would have raised an additional, and much-needed, $115 million in new revenue each year.
And making such a move really wouldn’t have required all that much political courage, since a January poll found that 69 percent of Kentucky voters supported an even greater increase to $1.30 a pack.
Like pulling a bandage off a wound, raising Kentucky’s cigarette tax to a truly sensible level is going to hurt no matter what.
Our legislators did us no favor by simply prolonging the pain earlier this year. This time we need to get it right.
I’m Bill Lamb, and that’s my…Point of View.