Now that the Legislature released its final budget recommendation for FY10, its clear many worthy programs will be forced to lay off staff and cut back services. We all know that these are very difficult economic times. Every individual and family in the Commonwealth is feeling the pinch.
The House and Senate cut programs, raised taxes, dipped into the rainy day fund and allocated federal stimulus dollars to patch together a budget that will keep our state afloat and protect some vital services. Given these desperate times, it’s hard to imagine why the state is leaving $10-15M in revenue uncollected.
Last year when the tax on cigarettes was raised $1 per pack, so called “other tobacco products” were not subject to the increase. These “other” products are chew, small cigars and roll-your-own tobacco. Many of these products come in candy flavors like grape and peach, just the thing young kids want. Watch a clip of kid using this stuff here. It’s hard to imagine why the state would want to discount these products.
The tax loophole on these tobacco products has been caught the attention of our policy makers. Rep. Hecht (D-Watertown) filed a bill to close the loophole. It’s been heard and there seems to be some support. But, quite frankly, we raised the sales tax in a few hours. How long does it take to close a loophole, collect $10-15M in revenue, fund some worthy programs – maybe even tobacco control programs! – and make it a little easier to prevent kids from using this stuff?
Yes, I’m one of those crazy anti-smoking advocates, but this seems like a no-brainer and I can’t think of any reason why this wasn’t done. Can you?