Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kentucky Governor threatening to close State Parks if no cigarette tax increase

Tell me if this makes sense: The Governor of the state of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, is stating that he will be forced to close several state parks unless a new cigarette tax is imposed. The additional revenue from higher tobacco taxes is needed to help offset a projected $456 million state revenue shortfall. The Governor hopes to raise the cigarette tax from 30 cents to $1 per pack.

My question is: what is the connection? Why is Mr. Beshear trying to tie-in cigarette taxes with the state’s park system?

More importantly, why should cigarette smokers carry the financial burden for Kentucky state parks? Don’t the parks benefit all citizens of Kentucky, as well as visitors from other states? The state of Kentucky already derives tax windfalls from in-state and out-of-state visitors who purchase gas, eat at restaurants, and stay in the hotels and lodges located within and outside of the 52 state parks.

If the state decides to go down the path of raising taxes to keep state parks open, why not tax the users and/or beneficiaries of the park system? Or, if you take the view that everyone in the state benefits from parks in one way or another, why not increase the overall state tax?

More importantly, why not cut spending. Most government entities engage in excessive and wasteful spending. If we as citizens have to pull our belts a little tighter as a result of this recession, why shouldn’t our governmental bodies have to as well?

Let me state right here that I am not a cigarette smoker, nor do I have anyone close to me that smokes. So I’m not trying to defend a very bad habit from a personal perspective.

My only point is that we as a nation should not be targeting certain groups to pay for unrelated expenditures. What’s next? Are we going to force chocolate lovers to pay for road repairs?

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