Raising The Cigarette Tax: It’s For The Children
As the General Assembly convened for the third term of the 21st century, Democrats control the House, Senate
and the Governor’s office. According to published reports, they already face a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal
year of 1.2 billion dollars and it didn’t take long before the controlling party began their faithful mantra of raising
taxes on North Carolina’s working families.
Shortly after Senator Marc Basnight (D-Dare), was approved unanimously to a record seventh consecutive term,
he reaffirmed his conviction to raise taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. Most media outlets endorse this idea across the state,
where they are openly vocal about their disdain for the low cigarette tax that currently exists.
Editorials across the state mimic the same rationalization they’ve always reverted to concerning the
subject of tobacco and taxation... higher taxes will lessen tobacco’s availability to children and will make more people
break free from the addiction, improving their health. Then while plucking at the heartstrings using these mirages as cover,
they reveal their true philosophy. More tax revenue for our bloated budget.
Even though Democrats have controlled the purse strings of the state budget for years now, the expanding budget
deficit is never reported as being the fault of their excessive spending, it’s the smokers in the state who just aren’t
paying enough in taxes. Besides, as has also been reported by the press, North Carolina smokers and their low taxation are
In the midst of these constant scare tactics, they never really explain the dilemma created with fewer and
fewer smokers buying cigarettes there becomes an across the board loss of tax revenue from farmers, manufacturers, and sales
taxes. That effective loss of revenue leaves behind the glowing eyes of the monster in the closet that is the state budget.
Why are we having this catastrophic budget shortfall of revenue when in 2001 they temporarily increased the
state sales tax by one-half cent to help rectify the budget deficit? Simply raising taxes to generate higher collected revenue
doesn’t solve budget problems when the legislators who control the budget finances don’t also control spending.
When another temporary half-cent tax increase was initially proposed to help cover the cost of recovery from
storm damage in the Western part of the state one Democrat intoned, “This is the easiest to collect, the easiest to
terminate, and it doesn’t generate a whole lot of extra paperwork,” Representative Phil Haire (D-Jackson) said.
He added, “In terms of being efficient... this fee just seems like a logical way to go.”
Representative Jim Black (D-Mecklenburg) went even further as he asserted that a temporary ‘fee’
would help cover the state’s fiscal problem.
It is somewhat confusing. The temporary tax that’s been in place since 2001 and was intended to help
fix the state’s fiscal shortfall is now supposed to expire on June 30th while the state’s budget is millions of
dollars in the tank anyway, yet another temporary sales tax increase is just the thing Democrats swear will solve the problem
the original temporary tax was supposed to have prevented.
Add that to an increase in cigarette and alcohol taxes and North Carolinians will have won a triumverate of
higher taxation mandated by the state election in November.
There is one small aside in the announcements about taxes. There has been talk of an income tax reduction
for people making more than 200,000 a year. That’s right folks, tax cuts for the rich proposed by Democrats, while they
increase taxes that will directly encumber working middle-class families!
Basic economic philosophy follows that people who make more than 200,000 a year are the one’s generating
the most jobs in our modern day economy, so giving them tax relief helps create jobs and that makes sense. Republicans have
always advocated this concept along with the proven formula that less taxation endows people with more money to spend, generating
more tax collection revenue.
Democrats know this too, even though they won’t openly admit it, so they quickly look to increase sales
taxes. The budget has a shortfall, not because North Carolinians don’t pay enough taxes, but because there is just too
much waste and excessive spending for non-essential programs and any legislator who can’t see that isn’t helping
the constituency of this state.
Besides, if raising cigarette taxes is so important in preventing children from smoking and will improve adults
health as they quit the habit, wouldn’t it just be easier, according to their logic, to simply ban smoking altogether
in the state?
Lee P Butler: As read in the North Carolina Conservative