Bad Tax Policy

Published May 22, 2009

Gov. Charlie Crist’s approval of a higher tobacco tax by calling it a surcharge is bad policy by any name (Gov. Charlie Crist to approve cigarette tax, May 20). Crist’s attempt to establish political cover for breaking his no-tax pledge and avoid being labeled a tax-raiser will not fool anyone.

The governor also should be worried about how this tax hike will negatively affect residents and businesses. Cigarette taxes are unreliable and unduly burdensome on low-income families.

The revenues generated will be spent instantly, leaving in place an unsustainably large budget. As more consumers buy cigarettes from untaxed or lower-tax sources, and with smoking rates in decline, these revenues will continue to fall.

Floridians will get stuck with a more-expensive government and insufficient tobacco-tax revenues to pay for it.

This tax only distracts attention from needed spending reforms.

JOHN NOTHDURFT, legislative specialist, The Heartland Institute, Chicago

This letter to the editor was originally published in The Miami Herald.