Wednesday, May 28, 2008

S.C. Cigarette Tax Is Dead

The Governor killed it and the house could not override his veto. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Stanford is not one to have his own ideas ignored.

What is depressing is the dishonest excuse Sanford used to justify his veto.

Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the plan. Sanford said the cigarette tax — an estimated $160 million — could not match the rising cost of medical care.

“It jeopardizes taxpayers and the people who depend on Medicaid,” Sanford said.

This is an argument that I can support and at times can be a good reason to veto any bill using funding of this type. The plan would establish a annual expenses for the government, while not assuring a continued corresponding revenue stream. We all have to keep in mind that one of the major benefits of raising the cost of cigarettes is it tends to reduce consumption and discourage new smokers. The end result could be established programs facing a shortage in funds due to a decline in smoking.

This could mean that in a few years the program benefits may have to be reduced, or alternate funds would have to be found to continue them.

But, in Sanfords case this excuse is just a lie.

He threw this veto, not because he opposed a hike in the Cigarette tax, he supports this, but because this version helps the wrong people. Stanfords plan, as I remember it, involved using the income from the Cigarette tax to fund a tax cut for the richest people in South Carolina. The fact that he supports this use of the potential tax revenue, and opposes the House plan, makes it clear that his excuse is a load of bull. In either case (Medicaid or Tax Cuts for the rich), the state will have to address a shortfall in income if and when cigarette consumption falls.

The difference is; the House plan taxes the poor to provide medical care for the poor, while Sanfords plan would tax the poor to aid the rich. You see, one of the harsh truths about the use of tobacco products, the poorer you are the more likely you are to smoke. The end result: We have the lowest tax on cigarettes in the nations, That we are in the top 10 state in tobacco product use in past month among persons aged 12or older, We still have grossly underfunded Medicaid system and we will have to readdress this issue in 2009.

I see this as another failing of the state government. I fear that of all the issues involved in this the only failure that Governor Sanford sees is the failure of the richest South Carolinians to get another tax break.


1 comment:

PetPeeve said...

Unbelievable, He also killed the bill to fund public defender's bill. heh, SC justice - the best money can buy.