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Archive for Thursday, May 3, 2007

New cigarette tax increase considered

May 3, 2007

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that she may push again for a state cigarette tax increase to expand health care to the uninsured.

"I still think it's a strategy that we may put back on the table next year," Sebelius said during a news conference at the conclusion of the 2007 legislative session.

She said approval this session of health policy reforms puts her and the Legislature on the path toward providing comprehensive coverage for all Kansans. About 290,000 Kansans don't have health insurance.

The question will be how to pay for expanding coverage, she said.

She said the state must look at more efficient ways to draw down federal dollars, and possibly increase the cigarette tax because the costs of smoking directly affect health care costs. And an increase in the tax will prevent some from picking up the habit she said.

In 2004, Sebelius, a former state insurance commissioner, proposed increasing the state cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack to $1.29. But the proposal went nowhere in the Legislature.

The difference between then and now, Sebelius said, is lawmakers are more interested in health care reform, and Kansas' rank among states on the cigarette tax has fallen since more than a dozen other states have recently increased their rates.

But Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who was the lead sponsor of health care legislation in the Senate, said an increase in the cigarette tax wasn't a good idea.

He said increases in cigarette taxes generally lead to reductions in revenue from the product because smokers seek other avenues of buying cigarettes.

"It isn't a reliable source of income to pay for health care," said Barnett, who is a physician.

He said policymakers will have to exercise fiscal discipline to free up dollars for health care.

Comments

KS 7 years, 7 months ago

I thought cigarettes were bad for us? We have implemeneted smoking bans (which I believe the one in Lawrence will be thrown out by the KS Supremes and re-written to allow for some flexibility) and made every attempt to discourage use. I guess this is another way? I say outlaw cigarettes, if they are so bad for us, and they are. Ops! Kansas would loose out on tax revenue. I guess the State doesn't want people to quit after all? Which is it, Kansas? Same thing applies to the gas tax. If we all car pooled and cut our driving in half, what would Kansas do without those road taxes?

KS 7 years, 7 months ago

Pogo, if you think your property taxes and health insurance costs are going to go down if eveyone quits using alcohol and tobacco, you are smoking something! Health insurance costs are high, in part, due to malpractice costs, etc. You think it is high now, just wait until the Govt. controls it. Your taxes are really going to go up because someone has to pay for it. It ain't gonna be free. Use of tobacco and alcohol are most assuredly choices. So is stuffing your mouth full of food and getting fat. Are you ready for a "twinkie tax"?

jonas 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm going to apply my babelfish translator on Pogo's post from "rhetoric" to "english"

(Tax cigarettes and booze. I don't smoke or drink, so it won't effect me. Since it doesn't effect me, then it's great. Other people don't concern me. )

I concede it is possible that it was satire, too. I hope so.

lynnmariea 7 years, 7 months ago

YES! Brilliant idea!!!!! I would love to see a huge cigarette tax increase!

ty1963 6 years, 3 months ago

I bet this would include giving illegal "immigrants" insurance also. Wouldn't that be great?

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