Washington, D.C. – Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) today released a television ad strongly opposing the Florida Senate’s budget proposal (Senate Bill 2600). The budget contains a $1 per pack tax on cigarettes, amounting to an estimated $2 billion over the next two years. As House and Senate Conferees meet this week, ATR also called on Florida Representatives to oppose the Senate budget.
ATR’s television ad opposing the Senate budget and efforts to raise taxes can be viewed at http://www.atr.org/video-atr-urges-florida-house-stop-a3153.
“Florida has overspent their way into a budget crisis and the Senate is now trying to raise taxes on the poor to dig their way out,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “In contrast, the House excluded the massive tobacco tax hike from their budget and simultaneously reduced spending by about $550 million. I hope the House remains as vigilant as they have been in opposing the tobacco tax hike while the budget conference committee meets.”
The Senate budget’s tax hike will disproportionately affect lower income individuals. The median income for smokers is $36,000 per year, about 30 percent less than non-smokers. The tax will also likely fail to raise the estimated revenue for the state, as interstate cigarette smuggling increases and consumption continues to decline. Florida’s neighboring states have an average cigarette tax of just 40-cents per pack. Under the Senate plan, Florida’s cigarette tax will be $1.34 per pack, over triple that of neighboring states. Florida’s smuggling rate already averages 7.33%.
“With this budget, the Senate is teeing up another tax hike in the near future,” added Norquist. “When Florida lawmakers are done raiding the pockets of the 20 percent of residents that smoke, they will find themselves wondering why they had less revenue than they predicted. The answer is always the same: declining consumption and increased smuggling. Once again they will have overspent their predicted revenue and tax hikes will be back on the table.”