SHAWNEE, Kan. – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has released his plans to reduce state deficit by implementing a hike in consumption taxes on cigarettes, tobacco, and liquor.
Gov. Brownback’s plan outlines an increase to $2.29 per pack from the current $.79 a pack. The tax on the wholesale price will jump to 25% from the current 10. The liquor enforcement tax increase would bring the current rate of 8% up to 12%.
Kansas faces a budget shortfall of nearly $650 million in the next fiscal year which begins in July. Some of the governor’s critics say it is Brownback’s own tax cuts for businesses which put the state in this predicament.
Josh Kerschen manages Missie’s Discount Liquors off Shawnee Mission Parkway. He called Brownback a “puppet in the political world. He’ll do whatever to get on top and whatever’s good for him.” Kershcen believes that tax hike will hurt customers’ pocketbooks.
Kerschen continued, “What else is even taxed at 12% in this whole country? I think a four percent increase in anybody’s tax is going to make someone mad, because like I said, four percent is four percent, no matter how you look at it. He’s probably going on the New York City mold. It’s just like with gas and liquor. People are going to buy it, so therefore he’s going to get his money no matter what.”
Some however feel the plan is deserving of praise.
Kevin Walker with the American Heart Association said, “There’s absolutely a positive benefit. Every time we’ve seen a cigarette tax increase across the country, we have seen these rates go down. People that smoke drive healthcare costs up significantly for everybody and so there’s a sense that they need to be paying part of the system to take care of that problem or balance that demand.”
Walker also said, “You look at this as kind of a win-win. The state has needs and so this certainly addresses a revenue need for the state but then the positive health benefits outweigh anything else this proposal does.”
Brownback’s plan says the tax hike will generate more than $107 million in 2016 and another $104 million the following year. The last increase on cigarette tax was in 2003, and on liquor, more than thirty years ago.
Click HERE for a copy of Gov. Brownback’s FY 2016 Governor’s Budget Report.