Tobacco tax hike potentially headed to June ballot in California
California is one of the most heavily taxed jurisdictions in the world. If that weren’t bad enough, for the next few months Golden State residents will have to deal with an annoying little man in tights pedaling around the state to stump for even higher taxes.
Lance Armstrong, who recently retired from professional cycling to lobby full time for higher taxes, was in Los Angeles earlier this week for a press event with California state Senator Don Perata to announce the launch of a campaign to raise the state tobacco tax.
A measure that would raise the cigarette excise tax by 114% has already qualified for the next statewide ballot, which is currently scheduled for February of next year but would be as soon as this summer if Gov. Brown is successful in referring an extension of the 2009 tax increases on income, sales, and cars to a June special election ballot.
Gov. Brown continues to make the rounds in Sacramento this week in attempt to peel off the requisite four GOP votes he needs – two from each chamber – to put his tax hikes on the ballot. Brown has had private meetings with Republican legislators in recent days, though what he is offering in exchange for their votes remains unclear.
Some suspect Brown might offer pension reform of some sort in exchange for GOP support, as he hinted at during his appearance before a joint legislative budget committe last week. Yet, despite Brown’s rhetoric on the campaign trail last year, Brown has thus far shown himself to be unserious about addressing necessary reforms to fix California’s broken public pension system, which is currently saddled with the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation at approximately half a trillion dollars. Pension reform is certainly needed, but should not be viewed as an acceptable bargaining chip in exchange for extending the largest state tax increase in the nation’s history.
Brown is working against a self-imposed deadline of March 10th for legislative referral of his proposed tax increases. As far as the campaign for a tobacco tax hike goes, Lance Armstrong is the last person who should be telling law-abiding citizens what to put in their bodies, especially when the substance in question is actually legal. ATR encourges Californians to contact their representatives in Sacramento today, and urge that they reject Gov. Brown’s proposal to put tens of billions in job-killing tax increases on the ballot. To do so, simply click here.