In unusual move, GOP legislators propose tax increase

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Two GOP senators are proposing a tobacco tax hike.
Two Republican senators have introduced a bill to increase the state's tobacco tax from 35 percent to more than 47 percent.

The tax revenue, which could amount to as much as $320 million, would be funneled into the state's general treasury. According to Politics in Minnesota, earlier this week, one of the bill's co-sponsors -- Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester (the other is Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont) -- touted the increased tobacco tax as a way the state could reimburse schools the $2 billion owed them as a result of the funding shift used to pay down last summer's budget deficit.

The bill, which represents a rare instance of Republican legislators proposing a tax increase, now heads to the Senate Tax Committee.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Minnesota's cigarette tax is currently near the national average. Taxes add about $1.58 to each pack sold in Minnesota, which is the 22nd highest rate of taxation in the country.
Carla Nelson.jpg
Nelson said the tax could raise money for the state to reimburse schools.


The Minnesota American Lung Association has long advocated for a cigarette tax hike. During an interview with City Pages last month, ALA communications director Bob Moffitt said he thought a tobacco tax hike would've been "a real smart way" to close the state's $5 billion budget deficit last summer.

So, in a roundabout way, legislators may end up following Moffitt's advice. The state took money from public schools to help pay down the deficit, and now Republican legislators are proposing an increased tobacco tax to help pay back the schools.

In a day and age when the state can use each and every penny it can find, raising tobacco taxes is a low-hanging fruit. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimating that smoking-caused health costs total $10.47 per pack sold in the U.S., legislators can make a solid non-partisan argument that there are good public health reasons for making cigs more expensive.

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An Advocate for Liberty
An Advocate for Liberty

You people are pathetic, except somehow 'jeb the liberal'. Have you ever heard of the word 'liberty'? Do you really have no faith at all in your fellow humans? I don't see how you people could possibly believe that stealing one persons money for the cause of whats more 'important' or what is 'right' to be just and morally sane. Would you teach that to your kids?  If you did, you would expect them to be criminals wouldn't you? If somebody wants to smoke, that's their decision, not yours. Get that through your heads. You cannot mandate choice. You can certainly try (as we have and relentlessly keep doing), but with every restriction on choice we severely diminish liberty. From what I understand, the essence of the United States of American is liberty, right? For the love of humanity, keep liberty intact. 

amiller92
amiller92

Even if I bought the insanity that taxes are "coercion" or "stealing" in general, they most definitely are not when they are entirely avoidable and voluntary.  NO ONE has to pay tobacco tax.

To the extent that any tax is tolerable to conservatives and libertarians, avoidable, Pigovian taxes of this sort are supposed to be.  The alternative is to allow smokers to "steal" other people's money with the externalities they impose on everyone else (in lots of ways ranging from frequent littering to second hand smoke to significantly increased public and private health care costs).

And choice is exactly the point.  You can chose to smoke if you want, but you're going to have to bear the cost of that choice instead of expecting handouts from others.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

“NO ONE has to pay tobacco tax.”

Ya, especially them Indians. The democrats have made them casinos Tax exempt.

Start there with you mad money grab.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

Just like a Republican, get outdebated so he immediately blames the problems on someone with brown skin.   kirk is a pathetic liar that used to claim he was black so people would stop calling him racist.  

Mike Man
Mike Man

Again with the deflection to change the subject when you're getting KILLED on here. Sad, sad little person, that Kirk. Sigh. I will pray for you.

Mike Man
Mike Man

Idiot tax. Simple as that. You're an idiot. Pay the tax. Oh, you already do? Good.

pizza
pizza

Check your logic: I'll almost certainly bet you wouldn't call out anyone for accepting tax payer funds for an abortion. Sex is another voluntary act. Why should either voluntary act be publically funded?

Also, demand for tobacco is extremely elastic. Ever been to NYC? Way higher instance of tobacco use. I was there in '09, and the cheapest Camels I saw were $9.50 a pack (Queens) most expensive $11.75 (Soho). They do earn more there, but not almost double.

double.

Mike Man
Mike Man

double idiot tax. not my problem. I'm not an idiot, so I don't have to pay. Enjoy.

amiller92
amiller92

If you would like to propose a tax on sex as a means of cutting down on abortions, feel free.   Good luck enforcing it.

But if you think the costs associated with abortions in any way compare to what everyone pays for smoking (via your health insurance or public funds), you are nuts.  Treating cancer and heart disease is a major driver of health care costs.  Abortion is not.

Yes, tobacco demand is quite elastic.  That's why an increase in the tax raises money.  But it's not perfectly elastic (the demand curve is not flat), which is why it also reduces consumption.

Jeb the liberal
Jeb the liberal

The purpose of this tax is to steal more from the working public plain and simple.  They want to steal every dollar so they can give themselves pay raises and spend the money on stupid shit. Yes keep pouring money into schools when it's not working thus far, spend money on a stadium that will not live out its economic life. All these people want to do is tell you how to live your life while you work to pay 60% tax rate.  Serfdom is back in mother Russia, I mean mother Minnesota

Mike Man
Mike Man

idiot tax. nobody is required to pay.

DB Cooper
DB Cooper

I'd also look at the demographics of who smokes and who doesn't.  I'll give you a hint, you'll find more tobacco ads and smokers in Frogtown and North Minneapolis than you will in White Bear Lake or Eden Prairie. 

This is simply another example of Government looking to balance budgets on the backs of people who can least afford it.

amiller92
amiller92

Those with constrained discretionary income are exactly the smokers who will benefit from higher tobacco prices.  They won't be able to spend more on cigarettes, so they will smoke less, to the benefit of their health and their health care costs.  That's taking money out of the tobacco companies' pockets, not balancing the budget on their backs of poor people.

Meanwhile those with surplus discretionary income are free to continue smoking at the same rate if that's how they want to spend their money.

The only losers are those with enough extra cash on hand who chose not to reduce their smoking and the tobacco companies.

amiller92
amiller92

Wait, you think the cost of cigarettes is a meaningful driver of the CPI changes used to determine COLA adjustments?  Um, no.  

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

You forget, we just give those on welfare more money. (COLA)Also, the democrats in the Minnesota House and Senate defend the welfare recipients "Right" to buy cigarettes and booze with "their" welfare money. (I can point you to House/Senate video of them doing just that)What are we to do?   Those on public assistance will never quit if we have democrats pandering for votes with your money.

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

There's no reason for smokers to pay high taxes on their tobacco fixes. Just go to a pipe shop and pick out some pipe tobacco you like and then buy some "shag." The shag tobacco mixed in with the pipe tobacco will let you roll cigarettes that are, at a minimum, 100x better than any of the prepackaged stale garbage that passes for cigarettes in this country. (without the shag your cigarette won't draw or burn properly)

Yes you'll get more tar and nicotine this way, but you'll find yourself smoking much less as your satisfaction goes way up. You'll also save a lot of money.

Mike Man
Mike Man

It's just the idiot tax. No biggie.

pizza
pizza

I buy a 1 lb bag of "pipe tobacco" for $24 out the door. Tastes just like my Camels (never had anyone tell me they were gross) and it lasts me 3-4 weeks, probably more healthful as well. My only complaint is the cherry likes to get flicked off.

Mike Man
Mike Man

"probably more healthful as well" .... wow.... 2 words - IDIOT TAX!

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

Kirk, since you liked my comment and since it shows there is an outstanding free market solution to this odious tax, perhaps you'd like to withdraw some of your detestable and inflammatory comments from this thread?

Being a Republican doesn't mean you HAVE to be an asshole ALL the time, you know.

Mike Man
Mike Man

Heh, didn't "like" that one, eh Kirk? Getting slammed by your own!

amiller92
amiller92

Raising our cigarette tax to match our neighbors, as Rep. Nelson and Sen. Rosen propose, is a good way to both improve the health of Minnesotans and address our budget issues.  It's undisputed that raising the price of cigarettes will reduce consumption, which helps keep people from starting and encourages them to quit.  Having fewer smokers, and smokers who smoke less, also reduces smoking-related health care costs.

This really shouldn't be controversial.  This tax is 100% avoidable.  If you don't want to pay it, don't smoke.  And even if you do smoke, there is no need to spend any more on cigarettes.  Spend the same amount and just smoke less.  All that will happen is that more money will go to the state and less to the tobacco companies and it will be better for your health.  Unless you weep for big tobacco, that's a win-win.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

 "It's undisputed that raising the price of cigarettes will reduce consumption"

Isn't that like shooting yourself in the foot?

1.  Raise taxes2.  Fund programs like education and healthcare with that tax3.  Pull rug out from under those programs because the desired intent is to have people stop smoking.

Why is that some of the brightest people cant see the future harm they are proposing?

amiller92
amiller92

Nope.  The elasticity of demand (i.e., how much demand changes with price) isn't high enough.  But even if it was, you wouldn't have significant extra money for your step #2 as sales would fall pretty quickly.

Whether an increase in the tax raises additional funds depends on whether enough people will quit to reduce sales enough to offset the government's higher intake per pack.  There's pretty good modelling out there that says no (sadly).  That's because while some people will quit or not start, others will (1) keep smoking at the same pace, or (2) keep spending the same amount on cigarettes, with more going to the government and less to the tobacco companies.Should the unthinkably good happen at some point in the future when everyone quits smoking, we'll just have to find other revenue sources.  That would be a great problem to have.

amiller92
amiller92

"What about the millions of dollars that tobacco already contributes to children's healthcare and education?"

Most likely more than offset by the reduced health care costs in a world where no one smokes.  Worst case scenario we have to tax something else.  Oh well.

But it doesn't really matter because that world does not exist.

As for banning it, well, do you honestly think that would work?  It didn't work for alcohol, and the unintended consequences of increased criminality around the black market were pretty obvious.  It's also not working particularly well for other banned substances at the moment.  But if it was possible, I, and I'm quite certain the Heart and Lung Associations and the American Cancer Society,  all of whom back this proposal, would be all for it.

I'm not sure why you think teachers or public employees disagree, but I'd wager that healthcare unions do not.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

"Should the unthinkably good happen at some point in the future when everyone quits smoking"What about the millions of dollars that tobacco already contributes to children's healthcare and education?"That would be a great problem to have."  So when the republicans propose "tax cuts", and it cuts revenues for things like education and healthcare, that's a good thing?

I don't mean to give you a hard time on this matter, I'm right there with you.  I'm just a bit more extreme.  I say, BAN IT if it's so bad.  Stop pussyfooting the issue.But good luck dealing with the teachers, public employees, and healthcare unions.That's why the "Slow-Bleed' strategy you speak of is the popular one.  The unions don't realize what you're doing.

Ben DeLong
Ben DeLong

Your only right about one thing. This tax is 100% avoidable because they shouldn't even have proposed it. The bigget problem with this, is once again we are being told how to live our PERSONAL lives by the government, in the form of a penalty on what we choose to do with our bodies.

If you want to live in a country like that, go to Canada please, I like my tax rate closer to 0, where it should have been.

amiller92
amiller92

With all do respect, who you live your personal life costs everyone else money.  BlueCross BlueShield estimated that in 2007 smoking cost every single Minnesotan an extra $554 is health care costs.

You can smoke if you want, but you should expect everyone else to subsidize it for you.

amiller92
amiller92

So many typos.  Let's try again:

With all due respect, how you live your personal life costs everyone else money.  BlueCross BlueShield estimated that in 2007 smoking cost every single Minnesotan an extra $554 is health care costs.You can smoke if you want, but you shouldn't expect everyone else to subsidize it for you. 

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Did Citypages do an article when Obama raised federal cigarette taxes by 61 cents? This happened 4 days after his inauguration day.   (look it up)

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

City Pages is a local newspaper that only covers issues relating to Minnesota.   Thank you for proving that you are maybe the stupidest person alive.   How many times do you need to be told this before your tiny brain understand this?   I know for a fact I've had to explain this to you like 5 times.   Even the stupidest child usually understands after the 3rd try.   

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

City pages has 510 articles that mention "George Bush"This took me 1 min to find this-(and I posted it in it's entirety)

George W. Bush tries on the blue dress? By Michael TortorelloWed., Jul. 6 2005 at 2:30 PM New Zogby poll suggests Americans willing to consider impeachment proceedings against the prezHe may not have fondled an intern, but it appears that a startling number of Americans may be ready to hold George W. Bush to account nonetheless. According to a little-publicized Zogby poll last week, 42 percent of Americans believe that if the president deliberately misguided the country about Iraqi weapons in the march to war, Congress should impeach him.The least predictable finding might be that 25 percent of Republicans would consider impeachment proceedings--a lot of potential defectors from the W. fan club.As the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin writes in his ever-useful White House Briefing, impeachment is never going to happen with Republicans in control of the House. (President Bush would have to officiate at gay wedding for that to happen.) Yet these strong public sentiments, as Froomkin writes: Suggest an appetite for more investigation into Bush's reasons for war and specifically--in light of the assertions in the Downing Street memos--whether his public rationales were in fact at all like his private rationales.

PMB, would you stop wasting my time and admit you're wrong?

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

One article from 7 years ago?   Wow!  

From City Pages:KFC China commercial stars fake Obama

This has no local ties so I guess they treat Obama the same as they do Bush.  My article isn't 7 years old either.   I bet City Pages has changed their policies about what they write about in 7 years.  

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

So federal cigarette taxes are not a Minnesota issue?    Majority of smokers are lower income MB, and Obama taxed the poor.  Why do you hate the poor MB?  Why would you say that is not a Minnesota issue?

And MB, there are dozens of George Bush articles written by CP, not just the one I listed below.  Would you like another?  Perhaps something with no ties to MN? 

Oops, did I catch you lying again?Stop shoveling fool...

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

 I notice you don't cite another one.  You do admit you were lying about the first article you cited, right liar? 

amiller92
amiller92

What make you think that poor people, i.e, people with constrained discretionary income, are spending any more on cigarette's after the federal tax increase than before?  Perhaps they are smoking less. 

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Local paper; well duh!See the search box up top?Type George Bush in there.

Wow, would you look at all them articles on George Bush?  Some even after he was in office like this one -Bush almost whacked by foul ball A.J. (the blur on the left) saves the life of G.W. (ducking blur in middle.) ? I thought I'd share with our readers an image that could rightly be titled "When Has-Beens Collide"--George W. Bush almost getting plonked on the head by a la...

So you're saying CP is a local paper that only cover local issues?Liar...

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

I'll finish the quote and prove you are a stupid liar.   I'm not surprised you weren't smart enough to finish reading the sentence. 

"lazy pop foul, his life "saved" by perhaps the most hated man in baseball, former Twin A. J. Pierzynski."

That's the connection to local politics.   You stupid bigot liar. 

Flag
Flag

You're kind of the left wing equivalent of him, you know.  Take a look in the mirror.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

 Have I ever made fun of dead children?   Have I lied about my race like kirk does so people won't call me racist?   Have I ever pretended that I knew people in the Anoka-Hennepin county school district?   Hey kirk I thought they were never going to change that policy and the "truth" was going to come out?  When is it coming out stupid liar kirk?  Looks like you were wrong yet again stupid lying kirk.

Please prove I'm lying about the facts I cite. 

You don't like me because I'm a Liberal that isn't afraid to call dumb people dumb. 

You ever want to step to me, you are welcom.  I comment a lot.  Prove me a liar.  Try to outfunny me.   I'll make you look stupid easily, just like I make kirk look stupid easily.   Please see below, how is kirk not a stupid liar for his George W. Bush nonsense?   Please post one of my comments were I blantantly lie like kirk does there.  Pretty please?  I cite facts constantly.  It should be easy for you.   I will go away forever if you can stupid.  Surely you are smarter than a dumb liberal like me and can easily vanquish me.  Step up scumbag.  I know you can talk shit, can you back it up?   Easy to talk, hard to back it up flag. 

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Ya the jackasses!But look at who their constituents are.Look at who gives these two a bunch of campaign money.Oh ya, it's the Mayo Clinic!

Don't worry folks, these two do not have the support of the Republican majority.  Now if we can only keep the tax and spenders on the other side of the isle from giving their support...

Mike Man
Mike Man

You must pay that "voluntary idiot tax" known as smoking. Enjoy, dumbass.

amiller92
amiller92

And?  Mayo Clinic (and the health professionals of Rochester) think people should not smoke.  So what?

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