Proposed Cigarette Tax Increase ‘Outrageous,’ Contra Costa Times Says
Democrats in the Legislature should have the "political courage to reduce spending," rather than propose an "outrageous increase" in the state's cigarette tax, an additional $2.13 per pack, to help cover the state's estimated $23.6 billion budget deficit, according to a Contra Costa Times editorial (Contra Costa Times, 8/23). Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson (D-Culver City) has proposed to increase the state's cigarette tax from 87 cents to $3 per pack to raise $1.7 billion to help offset shortfalls in the state's fiscal year 2002-2003 budget. Although the Assembly failed to pass the proposal earlier this month, lawmakers may reconsider the plan in subsequent budget debates (California Healthline, 8/16). Although Democrats have cited a poll that "showed voters overwhelming support" a cigarette tax increase, the editorial states that "polls are hardly the means to make fiscal policy." The cigarette tax would establish a "sizable black market for cigarettes," which would "reduce tax revenues as well as income for many small businesses," the editorial adds. In addition, the editorial states that passing of a cigarette tax increase without reducing in expenditures would leave the state with "major budget deficits over the next few years." The editorial concludes, "The cigarette tax charade is just one glaring example of how far our legislators have sunk" (Contra Costa Times, 8/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.