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Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson is once again asking lawmakers to increase tobacco taxes by as much as 58%. Parkinson says the money would be used for health care programs or the general fund. Right now smokers pay 79 cents per pack in taxes. By raising the tax to $1.34, KSCW Inc. claims that the tax could bring in as much as $88 million next year.
In reality, the tax hike ploy is nothing more than a way to expand government and Kansas cannot afford it.
Politicians often see cigarette taxes as a source of quick cash, thinking that they can hide behind the public bias against smokers. Whether Kansans smoke or not, they should be concerned that Governor Parkinson is trying to build a budget on money that isn’t there, and probably never will be. This is the same kind of wishful thinking accounting that has led other states into giant deficits and other financial problems.
Projected funds that tobacco taxes are supposed to bring in rarely materialize. Instead of paying exorbitant taxes, smokers simply go across state lines to places like Missouri where taxes on cigarettes are only 17 cents compared to Kansas’ current 79. Others turn to the black market and states with high cigarette taxes can expect higher crime rates as lower cost cigarettes are smuggled into the state.
“Raising taxes in a recession is always a bad idea. The more than 7,000 volunteer members of FreedomWorks living in Kansas are forced to live within their means, and the state should do so as well. There is such a thing as economic reality, and Governor Parkinson should not be looking for a taxpayer bailout,” says FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe.