It would have been imprudent for the West Virginia Legislature to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, as those tax hikes would fall disproportionately on lower-income residents at a time when they are already struggling.
Raising the excise tax on these products would hurt businesses in the state, especially near the state lines.
And even if the taxes are said to be earmarked for noble goals – the beer tax, for instance, was slated to fund substance abuse rehabilitation and treatment programs – they won’t be spent that way.
State governments across the country have raided similar earmarked revenue streams, such as 911 and highway funds, to fund unassociated government spending.
Instead of throwing more money into state government’s seemingly bottomless pit, West Virginia legislators need to focus on avoiding policies that hurt businesses and take more money out of taxpayers’ pockets.
Nothdurft is the budget and tax legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute.
This letter was originally published in the Charleston Daily Mail.