The Lexington Herald Leader is at it again.
From their big story Saturday headlined “Putting a price on smoking” comes this statement, unattributed to anyone:
“Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has proposed a 70 cent per pack increase in Kentucky’s excise tax as a way to improve the state’s finances. The increase would generate more than $200 million a year for state coffers.”
Where did this number come from? Maybe we should get reporter Sarah Vos and AP reporter Roger Alford in a room together to explain. In a story published December 21 in the same newspaper, Alford wrote:
“Beshear, looking for ways to raise revenue to offset some of the nearly $1 billion in shortfalls, proposed in December raising the state’s cigarette tax to $1 a pack and to double the tax on snuff and other tobacco products. That move, which Beshear believes is politically acceptable to most Kentuckians, would generate $81 million this fiscal year and $144 million the next – not nearly enough to offset the revenue losses.”
My newswriting professor would have had a field day with these two. What’s worse, their projections certainly make no provision for the people in five states bordering Kentucky who now buy their cigarettes in Kentucky, but would no longer do so if the tax went up as proposed.
That fact will take a big bite out of any hoped-for revenue increase.
This whole thing is very simple. Rather than cut spending for a government that is already too big, these advocates want to get lawmakers on the record supporting a tax increase, then they want to spend the projected inflow of cash, and then they want to raise taxes again when the projections don’t work out as promised.
It would be better to provide the public better information about where our money is being spent so taxpayers can make better decisions about where to cut and we can communicate our desires with our representatives based on facts, not spin.