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Sticking it to smokers is not the answer

web posted December 20, 2007
OPINION – South Carolina governor Mark Sanford released a preview of his upcoming budget on Wednesday stating he wants to lower the state’s tax rate from 7% to 3.5% resulting in roughly $107 million in tax saving for South Carolinians. However, to make up for the shortfall Gov. Sanford would add an additional thirty cents in taxes on each pack of cigarettes.

While that may sound like a good idea, the move would shift the burden of taxes to the lower income earners since the majority of smokers are among the poorest people in the state.

In addition, as the price of cigarettes increase the number of smokers decreases. If that continues to hold true the thirty cent per pack increase in taxes would not be enough to pay for the tax cut.

The move will be popular among those in the anti-smoking lobby who want to outlaw smoking everywhere, including in your own car and in some cities your own home.

Smokers are such easy targets when it comes to ways of generating revenues.

However, the answer is not to find new or additional taxes, the answer is to lower government spending. Over the last three years spending has risen 40% in the state, far outpacing inflation and population growth. Governor Sanford has already warned that the state will start the next budget year over $430 million in the hole.

The answer is to hold our elected leaders accountable for their foolish spending and the hidden pork in earmarks.

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