The first tax increase would be to raise cigarette and tobacco taxes from their current levels of 79 cents per pack to the national average of $1.34.I've really said nothing but nice things about Governor Parkinson thus far, but I expected that it would not be long before the Democrat managed to do one thing Democrats consistently do well: propose simultaneous ideas that cancel out any benefit either of them might have*. In this case, the contradiction is mentioned by Parkinson without the slightest hint that he understands the real-world effects of what he's proposing.
“Not only will this allow us to raise revenue, it has the added benefit of reducing teen smoking,” Parkinson said...
In addition to raising taxes on cigarettes and tobacco, Parkinson also proposed a statewide smoking ban that would “ramp up our fight against cancer.”
“Let me be very clear. I'm not proposing that we pass a watered-down smoking ban,” Parkinson said. “I do not want legislation that the tobacco industry writes, full of loopholes and not a real ban. Seventy-five percent of Kansans want a real public smoking ban, and I am asking you to give that to them.”
Kansas' budget has a $400m hole, so he proposes a tobacco tax to fill it (or part of it). At the same time, he proposes a new law that would reduce tobacco use - significantly enough to "ramp up a fight against cancer" - the very activity he's counting on to fill the hole.
I suppose he expects he can have it both ways: teens will not smoke**, people will not smoke in public, tobacco use will be reduced enough to make a meaningful change in people's health - and yet the tax revenue will increase by hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I wonder if there is something in the DNA of politicians which makes them unable to see the likely rather than just the desired consequences of their ideas.
If Parkinson wants to count on tobacco revenue to fund state government, he needs to take the opposite tack: make every public building a mandatory tobacco-use area. Pipe, cigar, chew, whatever: if you want to use public facilities, you'd better be filling the public coffers while you do so***. I can't say that such a plan would help the fight against cancer all that much****, but it would at least promote activity consistent with its proclaimed purpose.
* Assuming, of course, that taxes and bans are good ideas. They're not, usually. But since that's what politicians spend so much of their lives contemplating, let's pretend just for a moment that they are.
** Or at least they won't sneak to Missouri which at just .17/pack has the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation.
*** and no growing your own. That's cheating.
**** On the other hand, it would go a long way toward fixing Social Security's demographic issues.