Make no mistake, Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed cigarette tax increase affects everyone in Kentucky.
Here's the deal: the cigarette tax increase won't "work" for normal Kentuckians, but it will be very effective in forcing us to bail out politicians.
The tax hike is very unlikely to bring in $81 million between now and June 30, as Beshear says it will. Cigarette taxes are notorious for failing to produce hoped-for revenues in other states. And it is probably worse in Kentucky, where a seventy cent increase would stop residents of five surrounding states from crossing state lines to buy cigarettes and other things here. It's pretty likely we would lose at least that much revenue from that lost business.
And if they were really worried about health of smokers, they would be using the "extra revenue" to help people quit smoking, wouldn't they?
What the cigarette tax would accomplish, if it were to pass the legislature, is to open up the door for more tax increases. It's a test case, that's all.
Even if you don't smoke, you probably understand that raising taxes on Kentuckians right now is a terrible idea. If we miss this opportunity to force government to wring out some of its wasteful spending, we will have only ourselves to blame.
You've seen the signs at campgrounds: Don't Feed the Bears. Same goes for the big spenders in Frankfort. If we don't stand up to them on this, they will only come back for more.