As a part of his 2015 Kansas budget, Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed tax increases on alcohol and tobacco products. These tax increases would have a detrimental impact on working class consumers and small businesses alike. In a letter to the Kansas legislature, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist noted:
Increasing the sate cigarette tax from 79-cents to $2.29 per pack represents a 190% increase in the tax rate on mostly middle and lower class consumers. Increasing the state tax on liquor from 8% to 12% would have a detrimental impact on many of Kansas’s small businesses who are reliant on liquor revenue – small businesses that the 2012 and 2013 tax reform legislation was designed to help and grow… A pack-a-day smoker would end up paying an extra $547.50 in taxes a year. Kansans living along the Missouri border may opt to avoid the tax altogether by purchasing their tobacco products in Missouri – where the tax would be lower. If consumers flock to businesses across state lines, they may make other purchases while shopping for tobacco – hurting the bottom lines of Kansas retailers.
In addition to the burdensome costs to retailers and consumers, sin taxes such as those proposed by Gov. Brownback are traditionally a declining source of revenue. Kansas has an overspending problem and it can be solved not by hiking taxes but by eliminating government waste and reducing spending. The ATR letter to the Kansas legislature notes:
States should aim to increase spending at the rate of inflation and population growth. Using those metrics Kansas has over-spent by about $12 billion between 2000 and 2009. That’s an over one-billion-dollars-per-year overspending problem. That data point alone should put to rest any claims that there is no room to cut from the state budget.
To read the full letter, click here.