Salter Takes on Taxation Myths; Barbour Responds | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Salter Takes on Taxation Myths; Barbour Responds

Update: Pasted below (in the comments) is a statement from Barbour, in minutes ago, about his take on the state's "budget myths." Enjoy.

Read Sid Salter's column Sunday. It's good. Cheers to Sid, especially for this:

The state's 7 percent sales tax is very high (second highest in the nation) and regressive since the full rate applies to food — which penalizes the poor. But the state's individual income taxes, corporate income and franchise taxes, gas taxes and cigarette taxes are among the lowest in the nation.

Remember when Jim Herring was slinging highest-tax myths around last year? Read more of Sid ...

Mississippi's fiscal problems are indeed the result of spending too much — but it's aggravated by an irrational reliance on one-time, special fund money to pay for recurring state expenses rather than honest taxation that has become a political addiction. "No new taxes" is Barbour's bedrock political position and he's been consistent in it. But regardless of one's political philosophy or party affiliation, the most frequent target of misinformation and disinformation during the current legislative session has been the status of state taxation in Mississippi.

The premise is that Mississippi taxes are too high — higher than other states similarly situated and higher than Mississippians can bear no matter the state service to be sacrificed on the budget-cutting block. That premise, however, is false.

According to the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis, Mississippi's total tax burden ranks 45th among the 50 states.

Previous Comments

ID
137630
Comment

Not to toot Todd's horn, but he did write about this progressive-vs.-regressive tax issue almost two years ago in the JFP. We need a real discussion in this state about this problem. Let's get around to it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-03-27T21:23:38-06:00
ID
137631
Comment

Just in: Barbour fires back on budget myths. [verbatim]5 Biggest Budget Myths Myth #1: Mississippi taxpayers donít pay enough ñ we need to raise taxes to fix the budget. Tax revenue in Mississippi has increased 34% over the last 10 years, but spending has increased 50%. Tax revenue in the current fiscal year is coming in much higher than was previously estimated, and we are now told that our revenues are growing at a 5.4% rate over last year, the highest growth since 1999ónearly $200 million more. According to the revenue estimating committee, we will have only $120 million more in general fund revenue in the next fiscal year than we had in the current fiscal year, an increase of only 3.4%. After reviewing tax collections over the coming weeks, this may prove to be more than just a conservative estimate for the next fiscal year, but a low one. Myth #2: If the MAEP formula is not fully-funded, taxes will have to be raised at the local level to make up the difference. Local tax increases cannot be blamed on the level of MAEP funding. Districts have raised taxes every year as education funding has increased. Virtually the same number of districts raised taxes the one year the MAEP formula was fully funded than the years it was not. Only six districts have not raised taxes the last five years. FY05 partial funded MAEP 81 districts raised taxes FY04 fully funded MAEP 98 districts raised taxes FY03 partial funded MAEP 94 districts raised taxes FY02 partial funded MAEP 77 districts raised taxes FY01 (no MAEP) 91 districts raised taxes Myth #3: If the MAEP formula is not fully-funded there will be massive teacher firings across Mississippi. The State Department of Education predicted last year that ì3,000 teachersî would lose their jobs if the MAEP formula was not fully funded. Education spending increased but the MAEP formula was not fully funded and there was an increase of 450 teachers in Mississippi last year. In fact, there has been an increase of 2,000 teachers in the state over the past two years. The Governorís budget fully funds the teacher pay raise, doubles the funding for classroom supplies, funds textbooks for the first time in years and increases classroom funding by 8.3% and MAEP funding by 4% over last year.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-03-28T16:33:41-06:00
ID
137632
Comment

[More Barbour/verbatim] Myth #4: Funding for education in Mississippi is being reduced this year. The question during this budget debate is not whether education will be cut or not, but how big an increase it is going to get. The Legislative Budget Recommendation calls for a $29 million increase and the Governorís budget calls for a $70 million increase. This year the State Department of Education has asked for a $266 million increase over last year ñ and only about a third of that increase is the teacher pay raise ($98 million). Education spending has risen 46% over the last five years with virtually the same number of students. Interestingly, the State Department of Education has reported that, even if the MAEP formula is fully funded this year, their request for next year will be at least $200 million over this year, an increase of 30% in two years! 15% a year increases arenít sustainable. Myth #5: Raising cigarette taxes is the answer for education and Medicaid. The House claims a cigarette tax hike would provide a ìdedicated stream of revenueî for education and Medicaid. However, even with their very generous assessment of what a cigarette tax hike and other fee increases would produce, their budget comes up $135 million short of fully funding education and Medicaid and slashes everything else ñ like cutting universities and community colleges by 10% in one year. Another question the House proposal raises is this: Is the State of Mississippi for or against people smoking? If the House wants cigarette taxes to be a key revenue stream for education and Medicaid, they need people to keep smoking to keep that revenue coming to state coffers. Any reduction in smoking would cut public schools and Medicaid benefits. Why would we pin the funding hopes of education and Medicaid on the usage of a product we want and expect to decline? Fewer people are smoking every year in Mississippi and nationwide. This is good. But the revenue Mississippi gets from cigarette taxes has declined steadily (down 7% in the five years) ñ and increased taxes would expedite that decline even more. The CDC reports that every 10% increase in the cost of cigarettes will decrease consumption ñ and, therefore, revenue to the state ñ by 3% - 5%. [Verbatim] Now here's some good factcheck material ...

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-03-28T16:34:17-06:00
ID
137633
Comment

BTW, it looks like Salter hit a nerve in the governor's mansion. Go, homeboy.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-03-28T16:35:18-06:00
ID
137634
Comment

Hee! I *love* the part about how "we shouldn't tax cigarettes because one day, the revenue stream won't be as big as it is now, because fewer people are smoking." Now there's some fancy logic for you! As for the "spending has gone up faster than tax revenues" - love to see the break outs on that. Spending may have needed to rise quickly for things like infrastructure improvements, K-12 school improvements, upgrades to the University system, increases in Medicaid, etc. Love to find out how much of that spending has been unfunded mandates from the Feds, also. But, lord this logic is hilarious: Why would we pin the funding hopes of education and Medicaid on the usage of a product we want and expect to decline? Fewer people are smoking every year in Mississippi and nationwide. This is good. But the revenue Mississippi gets from cigarette taxes has declined steadily (down 7% in the five years) ñ and increased taxes would expedite that decline even more. The CDC reports that every 10% increase in the cost of cigarettes will decrease consumption ñ and, therefore, revenue to the state ñ by 3% - 5%. Because, could we see how much the CDC expects our expenditures on health care to decline, for instance, as cigaratte smoking is reduced? I mean, every study I've seen shows that there are huge dollar benefits to a healthier population. And since medicaid is such a big expense in the state, seems like forcing a decline in smoking while reaping a greater tax benefit would be what's known as a win-win situation.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-28T17:24:04-06:00
ID
137635
Comment

Great work, Sid. Great points, Kate. I was a two pack a day smoker 9 years ago and I did quite...decided before they go to $2 a pack I would do something about it. When I smoked I would always have upper respiratory infections and spend lots of money on health care as a result. Now - a rare occurance to go to the doctors. Maybe the JFP or even Sid can write another article on the savings on health care, medicare costs, with fewer smokers and how those general fund dollars can be spent to match $1 in Mississippi taxpayer dollars for $3/$4 dollars on federal funds for transportation, education, etc. What progress that might be.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-03-28T18:08:02-06:00
ID
137636
Comment

I donít have time to go through this piece by piece, so Iíll only post some highlights Gov: According to the revenue estimating committee, we will have only $120 million more in general fund revenue in the next fiscal year than we had in the current fiscal year, an increase of only 3.4%. After reviewing tax collections over the coming weeks, this may prove to be more than just a conservative estimate for the next fiscal year, but a low one. 3.4% per year is just in line with inflation, but just barely. Were it not for the untold millions from the beef plant fiasco, Mississippi could have easily had an extra $150 million for sure - possibly just shy of an extra $200 million if you really wanted to press your luck. What if those millions would have gone to raising teachers salaries instead? Oh, and Haley, travel expenses cost mucho dinero too!!!!!

Author
Philip
Date
2005-03-28T21:55:07-06:00
ID
137637
Comment

According to http://inflationdata.com/ February's inflation was 3.01% while the average inflation rate for 2004 was 2.68%. So that should definately be kept in mind along with the projected 3.4% increase. http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/CurrentInflation.asp

Author
Walker Sampson
Date
2005-03-29T10:27:53-06:00
ID
137638
Comment

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/bb_tobacco/ kate, that link has some excellent info on smoker costs, both to healthcare in general and to medicaid. Among them is that 14% of medicaid expenses are on smoking-related illnesses and that: * Studies suggest that every dollar spent on stop-smoking programs for pregnant women could save $3 in neonatal intensive care costs. * Smokers who successfully stop smoking reduce their potential medical costs associated with heart attack and stroke by about $47 during the first year and by about $853 during the following 7 years. So it seems a non-smoker is a bigger profit to that state than a moderately taxed smoker. And there are endless studies that show a higher tax on cigs reduces smokers (granted if the hike is high enough), particularly among pregnant mothers.

Author
Walker Sampson
Date
2005-03-29T11:00:34-06:00
ID
137639
Comment

Thanks for the data, wsamp. So, it's pretty clear that if we up the tax on cigarettes, the State's overall medical costs will drop, and we'll still get a trickle of revenue from the remaining few smokers. Do you think Gov Barbour really doesn't understand that math, or is he blatantly ignorning it to push his own agenda of "no new tax, not even one that a majority of residents support and that will not only bring in new revenues but save the state money?" Either way, it doesn't really look good for him.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-29T11:59:40-06:00
ID
137640
Comment

I would add to this line "if we up the tax on cigarettes, the State's overall medical costs will drop," the following: "...all things being equal." I think the elephant in the room on these discussions is how rapidly ALL healthcare expenses are going up, including what Medicaid and what Medicaid is forced to pay to providers. I don't know why this is, exactly, because I haven't studied it closely, but I would wager a guess that it takes a little looking at the current structure of medical insurance, insurance companies and managed-card providers to find at least one source of the problem. Somehow in this state and country we're going to need to get health care costs in line with some sort of reasonable barometer -- inflation, wage growth, sanity -- and that will require a massive government intervention that goes well beyond the GOP's half-ass "solutions" that focus on limiting those insurance companies' liability exposure in malpractice cases.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2005-03-29T12:14:30-06:00
ID
137641
Comment

Well, Todd, now that you've narrowed the topic down for us, I'm sure we'll come up with a solution in no time! I have a boatload of opinions on why healthcare costs are going up, which I won't relate here, because they're really not that insightful or interesting. One of the key things that would help is more emphasis on preventive care - which is where this cigarette tax discussion fits under the umbrella of health care reform. There is a slow but sure movement towards preventive care. Larger companies are looking for ways to cut insurance costs without necessarily cutting benefits, and are finding that programs for fitness, stress, weight loss, smoking, etc., are generally cost effective in reducing health care costs and therefore insurance premiums. It's a big issue in the corporate world these days. I really just find Gov Barbour's logic in this laughable, and his stance on the cigarette tax to be outrageous.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-29T14:08:56-06:00
ID
137642
Comment

His stance against the Cig tax is hysterical. Or tragic, depending on how you look at it.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-03-30T16:10:46-06:00
ID
137643
Comment

Yes, just how far is his willing to go to protect his precious tobacco companies? It's disgusting.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-03-30T16:18:52-06:00
ID
137644
Comment

"Protecting Tobacco Companies" is a myth. Consumers, not companies, pay the inflated tax and, as smoking is more prevalent among the less educated -- a Tobacco Tax is mostly a tax on the poor. Those with computer savvy may turn to buying Reservation Cigarettes from Oklahoma or New York to by-pass the tax.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T08:43:04-06:00
ID
137645
Comment

Protecting tobacco companies by keeping the tax/price per pack low. The lower the price of a pack of cigarettes, the more people will continue to buy them and the more new, younger smokers will take up the habit; making the profits stable. Ergo, no tobacco tax protects tobacco company profits. Really not that hard to understand, says a former smoker.

Author
GDIModerate
Date
2005-03-31T08:55:43-06:00
ID
137646
Comment

Iron: That'd be "Tobacco-Using Consumers" who'd pay the extra tax on Tobacco. I assure you I wouldn't be paying any such tax. I fully support raising said Tobacco taxes as high as they'll go.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-03-31T10:01:22-06:00
ID
137647
Comment

I quit several months ago but prior to quitting I (and many close associates) were buying from the reservation for 1/3 of what the well meaning Tax hikers thought we should pay. Marijuana is cheaper to grow than tobacco but more costly to the smoker -- is the price a serious deterrant? Does it keep teens from using?

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T10:04:40-06:00
ID
137648
Comment

You're not seriously suggesting we should keep it as is because in raising it, people would simply find places to get it cheaper? Like you say, people are going to smoke, so raising taxes on it is a good idea. I doubt that that many people will start buying from the reservations and the like if it goes up that much. People prefer to get it quickly, and will end up paying the extra taxes. Not everyone is up to mail-ordering it. As it is now, people still start, and people still die from smoking. I don't see anything wrong with deterring that.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-03-31T10:08:58-06:00
ID
137649
Comment

Barbour's own argument states that raising the price of cigarettes decreases smoking. check out the links to the CDC data that wsamp provided, above. There's actual data on this, it's not speculation. Price certainly kept me from smoking as much of certain substances as I wanted, back in the day.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-31T10:19:56-06:00
ID
137650
Comment

Propaganda lags behind science as to the effects of cigarette smoking on health. Interesting new studies (not funded by or connected to tobaccoe companies) are contradicting what "everyone knows" is fact. I am suggesting that Mississippi is (once again) on the verge of saying "Tax the poor! Most of them don't vote, anyway!". I don't smoke either -- we should all pay our fair share. The price increase will not be a significant deterrant. Never has been.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T10:27:22-06:00
ID
137651
Comment

Iron, got any links to prove those assertions? Are you saying that 'interesting new studies' show that smoking is not addictive, not hazardous to your health? And that price does not effect consumer behavior? Because if price doesn't effect behavior, then I think we need to re-write some fundamentals of economics. Please clarify, and provide links to research or other data sources. Until I see some facts, I'm sticking with the CDC's conclusions about smoking.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-31T11:01:27-06:00
ID
137652
Comment

"I'm sticking with the CDC's conclusions about smoking." Please do! This discussion has proven very little about the well worn topic of the smoking myth but it has become a prime example of how to keep Mississippi right where it has always been. We change a discussion of whether the state needs new funding into a debate as to whether certain elements of the population should not pay for all of it. It will spiral down into an endless argument over who is being unfairly treated and funding won't benefit. Tobacco companies won't be seriously hurt nor poor people significantly helped by a punitive tax measure. Does anyone want to explore sane ways to improve the quality of life in Mississippi?

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T11:18:27-06:00
ID
137653
Comment

What, pray tell, is the 'smoking myth.' Iron, I agree with you that Sales Tax in general are harder on the poor. However, I think that the data proves that raising the price of cigarettes reduces smoking which cuts down on chronic health problems which could then lower state health care costs which could, in theory, anyway, result in those funds being available to provide other services in the state. If you have a better way to reduce smoking, love to hear it. As it is, you're putting forth vague allusions to 'interesting new studies' and 'smoking myths' without really saying anything of substance. And, if you'll read Sid Salter's article, you'll find that topic addressed. Plus the article that Todd wrote, that Donna linked to, above.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-31T11:28:19-06:00
ID
137654
Comment

"...could then lower state health care costs which could, in theory, anyway, ..." The theory is flawed but this discussion should be about a sane tax system and has degenerated into a bandwagon for a tax that few in this discussion would be affected by. We are in favor of more tax on "other people" especially if they are poor and/or undereducated so that they don't amount to much politically. If the politicians -- from either side -- can keep us doing this then we will never be able to hold them accountabl;e.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T11:33:41-06:00
ID
137655
Comment

http://www.cdc.gov/Tobacco/sgr/sgr_2000/sgr_tobacco_aag.htm That links to the "At a Glance" section of the 2000 Surgeon General Report on Reducing Tobacco Use. That was a pretty exhaustive, 400+ page piece of literature on the subject. One the summary points is that "An optimal level of excise taxation on tobacco products will reduce the prevalence of smoking, the consumption of tobacco, and the long-term health consequences of tobacco use." Here is a fact sheet from that report concerning the effects of tax increase on tobacco products: http://www.cdc.gov/Tobacco/sgr/sgr_2000/factsheets/factsheets_taxation.htm I think this is pretty conclusive stuff. The Surgeon General has got enormous resources to conduct this kind of research. Increasing the tax on tobacco most certainly reduces smoking, and by extension it'd be an excellent step to solving Medicaid here, as it constitutes an instant source of revenue for the state. It's certainly not *the solution*, but it's a step forward. Also, concerning low-income smokers: it's true that low-income folks are more likely to smoke, but it's also true that young people who work are also more likely to smoke. These are simply people who aren't at the peak of their earning power, and get lumped into the low-income category, though they aren't poor. Something to consider.

Author
Walker Sampson
Date
2005-03-31T11:37:58-06:00
ID
137656
Comment

Iron, I'm happy to talk overall taxation policy with you, as I think it's a very important topic. However, what I'm not going to do is let you make vague comments about "interesting new studies" and the "smoking myth", which you refuse to define in order to clarify the existing discussion. You also state with NO EVIDENCE that "The price increase will not be a significant deterrant. Never has been." Which is contrary to every piece of evidence I've ever seen on the topic, some of which is linked from this very blog. When called to clarify this, you accuse me of being "in favor of more tax on "other people" especially if they are poor and/or undereducated so that they don't amount to much politically." Which is wrong on so many levels I can't even begin to describe it to you. Instead of just commenting without any real data, and then making blanket assumptions about me, you might want to try doing some reading and research. Start with the links on this page, for one. I personally am trying to hold Barbour accountable for his heinous logic on this very topic which stems from stupid ideology that all taxes are bad and that we should never tax cigarette companies because that causes smoking to decline. As for the rest of the tax code, go read Todd's article, that is linked above. Let's discuss it there. And don't ever make blanket assumptions about me again. Ticks me off.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-31T11:54:41-06:00
ID
137657
Comment

"...stupid ideology that all taxes are bad and that we should never tax cigarette companies..." I am with you here to a point! We should close corporate loop-holes everywhere and make sure all corporations (including tobacco companies) pay their fair share. I was objecting to a sales tax not aimed at the companies -- in effect getting mad at the companies and punishing their customers. Neither the CDC nor the Surgeon General is any more "expert" on taxes than you or I. They can be expected to favor taxes in line with their own agendas -- even as you and I. On the smoking issue the "Studies" on both sides of the question are seriously flawed by the politics of the question. Actual scientific studies are on the way. BTW -- All taxes ARE, in fact, "Bad" in that taxation is merely a necessarily evil. It should never be confused with virtue.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T12:28:02-06:00
ID
137658
Comment

"An optimal level of excise taxation on tobacco products will reduce the prevalence of smoking, the consumption of tobacco, and the long-term health consequences of tobacco use." If there is such a burning desire for government to mandate health policy by forcing some level of behavioral modification via taxation, then why aren't you all as vigorously pushing for increased taxes on alcohol, or asking for punishing taxation on those staples in the diets of southerners that so often lead to that physical, and budget, killer known as diabetes? This tobacco tax doesn't come close to bridging our budget gap. The everyday people pushing for an increased tax on tobacco are being as politically manipulated as those being manipulated to resist. Stop being the pawns of the political heavyweights in our state. If you all really believe consumption taxes work, then by all means lets do something truly bold and increase our state gasoline tax by 5, 10 or 15 cents per gallon, close our budget gap, enact a new indexing formula to limit annual state budget growth going forward so we don't end up in this mess again and stop wasting time with these half-baked nickel and dime solutions. Such an approach would not only be more socio-economically equitable, it would deliver far greater good to a far greater number of Mississippians.

Author
Proud To Be Right
Date
2005-03-31T12:51:48-06:00
ID
137659
Comment

"Protecting Tobacco Companies" is a myth. LOL, Iron. I don't think the tobacco companies need you to apologize for them, Iron; they have Barbour, after all. And I love the "smoking myth" phrase.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-03-31T12:52:41-06:00
ID
137660
Comment

No apologies for tobacco companies. The companies won't pay the tax you propose. Merely pointing out that punishing your neighbors will not have much effect on companies. I am not a Barbour supporter but commen sense should be brought into the discussion at some point. The "Smoking Myth" refers merely to the battle against tobacco as being an integral part of the larger "War on Drugs" which is one of the two great hoaxes of recent decades. "Proud to be Right' has some good points -- why not a more general tax that would not be so obviously meant primarily as punishment for behavior of which we don't (or no longer) approve?

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T13:06:12-06:00
ID
137661
Comment

PTBR, just because the tobacco tax "doesn't come close to bridging our budget gap" doesn't mean it ought to be dismissed as a step. Mississippi has a very low tax on cigs (http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/cigarett.html) and it's not petty or near-sighted to push for its increase. Tobacco is stand-out for taxation as it cannot be consumed even moderately without detrimental effects (not the case with alcohol or bad food). I'm open to alcohol increases as well, and I like legislation to give fast food a hard time. Your "go all the way or don't do it all" philosophy isn't prudent. Increasing the cig tax isn't a "half-baked nickel and dime" solution, it's a legitimate step.

Author
Walker Sampson
Date
2005-03-31T13:17:37-06:00
ID
137662
Comment

"Increasing the cig tax isn't a "half-baked nickel and dime" solution, it's a legitimate step. " Legitimate -- but Immoral -- it calls upon others to take up a burden we are not willing to shoulder.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T13:20:19-06:00
ID
137663
Comment

Wonderful. We've moved from Taxes to religion. How is raising the Tobacco tax "immoral" again? I've missed that explanition. I'm gonna need to change my alias at this rate....

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-03-31T13:47:36-06:00
ID
137664
Comment

The tobacco tax is issue avoidance. Its a rump in the much bigger issue of our state budget. A bandaid that only covers a very small part of a still growing wound. Do you really believe that if we just tax fast food our obesity and diabetes problems go away? Taxing fast food is another nickel and dime solution that hurts the poor more than anyone else. Nickel and dimes are defensive plays of the weak that won't come close to slowing the GOP train in MS. If a window of opportunity opens to increase taxes you have to be bold and broad-based because the spigot will close before you get to where you want to be if your approach is to rely on the drip-drip-drip of smallish tax measures. If your pipeline is nickel and dime taxes, you'll get a nickel and maybe a dime, then the spigot will close and when you come back the next year, or the one after that, for another nickel or dime your tax measure will be a dead duck on arrival because the competition will crow loud and long that once again you can't live within your means. You all need to decouple your dislike, for some hate, of Barbour and his lobbying linkage from the bigger picture of what is a reasonable level of state revenue enhancement we need, and can sell, Mississippi voters over the next 3, 5 and 10 years. If you aren't ready with more than this piddling tobacco tax you'll squander the opportunity when it presents itself.

Author
Proud To Be Right
Date
2005-03-31T13:49:43-06:00
ID
137665
Comment

No religion in it! We should not saddle our neighbors with a burden we refuse to carry. The way for the GOP or anyone else to avoid any meaningful new taxes is to get us to argue over who should be taxed. We are doing that. The tobacco tax is not only wrong -- it won't do the job!

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T13:56:55-06:00
ID
137666
Comment

Iron, what about the increased health costs that we all have to bear because some people smoke? And, since there's data to prove that increasing the price of cigarettes (by, for example, taxing them) causes a reduction in smokers, then that starts to cut into the profit of the cigarette makers. I don't want to punish smokers. I want them to pay for their own health problems, and I want cigarette makers to see lower profits for pushing a product that harms people. It's called a Sin Tax, and there's a long history of 'em. Thanks for the semi-clarification of the smoking myth. Never heard that one. Any links to articles on it? As for the "we should tax other things, too", I say bring it on. As for gasoline prices, I think we'd do more good to end subsidies for oil companies. However, I was in CA when the residents of the state voted in a gas tax that the legislators were too chicken to vote on themselves. Gasoline should be expensive. It's current price does not reflect the true costs associated with its production and effect on our environment. for the rest of it, I say move the question away from sales taxes on on to Bush's and Barbour's overall tax policies. Having been through this topic way too many times on these boards over the last few years, all I'm going to say is "go read 'Wealth and Democracy' by Kevin Phillips." As for the "Morality of Budgets" - didn't anyone read last week's issue? Great piece by Wallis on this very topic. PBR, if the cigarette tax is so piddling, why bother to oppose it? Any hard numbers on how 'piddling' it is? And, I've said it before on these boards. Taxes are not inherently bad. If taxes are bad, then roads are bad and fire fighters are bad, for 2 examples that I think even the Libertarians may agree with.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-31T14:04:08-06:00
ID
137667
Comment

I have been referred to Salter more than once here -- I did read the Opinion piece and noticed that the Cigarette Tax was last on his list of items being taxed too low... "But the state's individual income taxes, corporate income and franchise taxes, gas taxes and cigarette taxes are among the lowest in the nation." I am entirely in favor of raising taxes on those items that he opines are taxed to low so long as we do it in the order he listed. All in favor?

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T14:05:54-06:00
ID
137668
Comment

You've got to be kidding. Iron. How would we pay these higher taxes, anyway? I don't know about you, but I consider Wendy's High Dining these days. Let's not talk about Gas Prices...

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-03-31T14:13:28-06:00
ID
137669
Comment

Gas is relatively cheap (in real costs) now and is actually a bargain. The income tax would be paid as usual. In case anyone gets the idea that I am defending tobacco or smoking -- I am not. I am talking about a tax aimed at a select group temporarily deemed "less desirable or less Politically Correct". I do follow news of the latest rresearch and, in fact, would like to suggest that we all should read this Mississippi connected story -- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_23465.html

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T14:18:20-06:00
ID
137670
Comment

Kate, read all the books you want, as long as you keep looking only to your defense to score points you'll never win the game. In many respects the proponents behind the tobacco tax have already lost. The debate is no longer about $1, its 50 cents. If the window opens and Barbour let's this tobacco tax squeak by, and it would not surprise me if that is the plan, I promise he'll slam the door shut just as quickly as it opened and you'll never get another tax increase out of him or this legislature, including the House, until after the next statewide elections in 2007. As long as the tax strategy of the Democrats in the House is to leave their blood on the floor for nickel and dimers supported by public opinion polling, small samples I might add, you'll never get there from here. This should be the swan song session of Billy McCoy.

Author
Proud To Be Right
Date
2005-03-31T14:35:37-06:00
ID
137671
Comment

"It's called a Sin Tax, and there's a long history of 'em. " Now we bring in Religion! What is "Sin"? If your answer is what I expect then we might get serious and raise a lot of money! Why don't we legalize and tax marijuana? There is a lot of science behind the assertion that it is less harmful than Tobacco and it is cheaper to produse. A Hemp industry in Mississippi would bring a lot of jobs (both in Industrial and Medicinal Hemp) and would raise a LOT of money for the state. (Kate -- this is for you!) http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/HISTORY.htm

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T14:50:36-06:00
ID
137672
Comment

Iron, again you're making assumptions about what I support and don't support. Please stop. Love to legalize and tax marijuana. Great plan. Hemp is awesome. Love the stuff. Great fiber, makes a comfortable fabric. PBR, I didn't realize I was here to "win the game." Nor did I realize that "reading books" was something I shouldn't do when I'm trying to understand something as complex as the tax code. I thought I was here to actually learn something.

Author
kate
Date
2005-03-31T16:21:26-06:00
ID
137673
Comment

Not making assumptions. I thought you might be interested or I would have not mentioned it. http://www.wonpr.org/ This ought to be more widely discussed. http://www.drugwarfacts.org/

Author
Iron
Date
2005-03-31T17:19:04-06:00
ID
137674
Comment

"Protecting Tobacco Companies" is a myth. Consumers, not companies, pay the inflated tax and, as smoking is more prevalent among the less educated -- a Tobacco Tax is mostly a tax on the poor. Those with computer savvy may turn to buying Reservation Cigarettes from Oklahoma or New York to by-pass the tax. ---------------- While true in concept, it implies that the companies couldn't care less about new taxes (passed on or not). were this true, there would not be billions paid in lobbying every year over this very issue.

Author
jp!
Date
2005-04-04T09:07:27-06:00
ID
137675
Comment

jp! ...Of course they care! Caring is, however, irrelevant when you speak of large companies. The consumers (those who smoke) will pay the bill and the fact is that it should be spread more evenly over the population.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-04-04T12:34:49-06:00
ID
137676
Comment

I still don't see why I should pay for their right to get cancer and die.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-04-04T13:13:28-06:00
ID
137677
Comment

And I'm not sure why Iron is so opposed to taxing cigarettes and not opposed to legalizing and taxing marijuana. seems a mite contradictory to me. Plus, still waiting for the actual data that shows that consumers don't take prices into account, among other things.

Author
kate
Date
2005-04-04T14:19:39-06:00
ID
137678
Comment

Cigarettes are already taxed. I smoked for 41 years and I know a lot of smokers. Many of us gave it up. I don't know anyone who quit for purely financial reasons. I have never used Marijuana and cannot imagine the circumstances under which I would start but the harm it is doing results from the black market profits derived from sales -- not from the drug.

Author
Iron
Date
2005-04-04T14:53:24-06:00

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