For once, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s efforts to correct the state’s massive budget shortfall make a modicum of sense. He has forwarded proposals to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes which are now being reviewed by a legislative committee.
Brownback wants to raise tobacco and alcohol taxes to help eliminate a projected shortfall of nearly $600 million in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The state’s budget problems arose after lawmakers aggressively cut income taxes at Brownback’s urging in 2012 and 2013 to stimulate the economy.
The Republican governor wants to increase the cigarette tax to $2.29 a pack from 79 cents. The tax on other tobacco products would rise to 25 percent from 10 percent.
The tax on packaged alcoholic beverages would go to 12 percent from 8 percent.
The increases are expected to bring in about $110 million annually.
By increasing the tobacco tax, more would be accomplished than filling the budget void. It could also discourage smoking and other tobacco use, particularly among our youth.
Opponents say there is a strong likelihood of increased cigarette smuggling if taxes jump. Perhaps, but it this might be worth the chance.