In the following Op-Ed published in yesterday’s Washington Examiner, ATR director of state affairs Patrick Gleason explains why the DC City Council needs to cut the cigarette tax if it is serious about improving the health of children in DC public schools:
When the D.C. City Council raised the cigarette tax by 50 cents, city officials claimed it would generate a windfall of additional tax revenue for government coffers. However, in a letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty last month, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi informed him that the council’s calculations were $15 million off.New revenue projections released in February show cigarette tax revenue coming in below initial projections by more than 30 percent. Not only did the tax increase miss the projected revenue mark, it turns out the increase actually resulted in a loss of revenue for the District, coming in at approximately $7 million below pre-increase levels.While the decline in revenue came much to the shock and chagrin of D.C. Council members, it comes as no surprise to those familiar with tobacco tax increases and their implications. The same thing happened when New Jersey raised its cigarette tax by 17.5 cents in 2007. That tax increase brought in $52 million less than Garden State lawmakers expected and $22 million less than was generated by the pre-increase rate.