Again, ATR urges Gov. Herbert of Utah to veto a looming tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products before his opportunity to weigh in runs out (March 31 is the last day he can veto). He has said that he opposes tax increases, but these words don’t mean much if he refuses to veto a tax increase. If he chooses to let this tax increase move forward by default, he is no less guilty of further burdening taxpayers and encouraging growth in government as those who voted for the tax increase. He should show leadership and continue in Utah’s tradition of fiscal responsibility rather than raising taxes to satisfy spending requests.
The $1 per pack tax increase contained in House Bill 196 is estimated to cost the taxpayers of Utah about $43 million a year. When one looks at the fiscal impact statement, it also mentions a revenue loss by businesses of $108 million over the next two years. The damage done to the private sector through revenue loss is higher than the actual tax increase (read Utah’s Tobacco Tax: Jobs Go Up in Smoke). Tax increases are a bad idea anytime, but one has to especially wonder why they would be pursued in a struggling economy. Fifty-eight Utah Representatives and Senators voted the wrong way by supporting this tax increase, but the Governor still has the opportunity to veto this tax hike. Utah government needs to find more spending cuts and ways to live within its means as the people of the state have had to do during this economic recession.