Tobacco Tax Opponents Cite Effect on School Funding
Tobacco companies and other opponents of Proposition 86 say that schools would not receive about $800 million annually from the proposed tax increase because the projected annual revenue from the new tax would not be deposited into the state's general fund, the Sacramento Bee reports. Proponents of the argument cite Proposition 98, a 1988 measure that guarantees a percentage of the general fund to education (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 11/5).
Proposition 86 would increase the state tobacco tax to $3.47 per pack of cigarettes to fund health care programs and services (California Healthline, 10/30).
The California Federation of Teachers is endorsing the measure. A spokesperson for the CFT said that the measure would not hurt schools because "no money is being taken away from the general fund."
The California Teachers Association -- the state's largest teacher's union -- has not taken a position on the measure (Sacramento Bee, 11/5).
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her campaign on Friday said that they did not approve of a slate mailer that has been distributed across the state, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The "Voter Information Guide for Democrats," produced by a company in Sherman Oaks, contains Feinstein's photo on the cover and encourages citizens to oppose Proposition 86 and other measures. Feinstein supports the measure.
Feinstein's image appears with a recommendation that state residents vote no on Proposition 85, which would require doctors to notify a parent or guardian of an unmarried minor before performing an abortion. Feinstein also opposes Proposition 85.
According to a campaign finance report, Californians Against Unaccountable Taxes, a committee against Proposition 86, paid $75,000 this year to the company that produced the mailer (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 11/4).
In related news, a lawsuit filed by a New York retailer seeks to end the practice of American Indian tribes selling cigarettes without the state tax, the New York Times reports. The lawsuit filed by John Catsimatidis, owner of the supermarket and convenience stores, also seeks $20 million from American Indian nations, the amount he estimates his stores have lost in cigarette sales to American Indian retailers.
New York loses between $436 million and $576 million each year in revenue from untaxed cigarette sales. In response, the state is expected to begin requiring wholesalers to charge $1.50 tax per pack to American Indian retailers. The current law only charges a tax to nonAmerican Indian retailers.
American Indian reservations have not been required to tax non-American Indians because American Indian nations are considered sovereign, according to the Times (Kilgannon, New York Times, 11/6).
Funding generated by Proposition 86 is earmarked for many programs unrelated to smokers' health care, such as emergency department visits for uninsured residents and early childhood education, John Ridley -- an actor, film director and writer -- said on Friday in a "Sideways" commentary on "California Connected."
"It's like we're talking out of both sides our mouths," Ridley said, adding, "Yeah, you're all a bunch of lousy sinners who need to be taxed for putting a kid on our health care system, but please, don't kick the habit, otherwise we won't have the loot for a bunch of other programs that we don't want to raise our taxes for."
"California Connected" is a weekly, hourlong newsmagazine produced by PBS stations in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco that covers state events and issues (Ridley, "California Connected," KVIE, 11/3).
Video of the segment is available online.