Smokers could avoid paying more for cigarettes

Two Cigarettes

Smokers would give more for buying cigarettes in accordance with a proposal backed on November 19 by a panel appointed by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform approved raising the cigarette tax to $1 a pack from the present 60 cents.

The information wasn’t welcomed at Bo’s Smoke Shop in Lawrenceburg, where the price for a pack of the most widely used Marlboro cigarettes would raise to $5 a pack.

The proposed cigarette tax increase, if accepted by lawmakers, would be the second since 2009 when it was increased twofold from 30 cents a pack.

Cigarette tax raises usually present only a short-term income increase accompanied by a decrease because people are likely to quit smoking rather than pay the higher prices.

Beshear determined the tax panel to suggest a easier tax code that would produce enough income to satisfy state requirements even during recessions.

Regardless of the state’s still-strained funds, participants of the group have eliminated some proposals, including enactment of a 6% tax on groceries, which would have produced some $500 million annually. They also rejected a proposal on November 19 that would have reinstated an property tax in Kentucky.

The panel supported a proposal to enable voters in cash-strapped local governments across Kentucky to make a decision through ballot initiatives whether to accept short-term sales tax hikes to pay for particular building plans.

The proposal to enable a “local option sales tax” in Kentucky, one of a 12 states that don’t already permit one, was backed by Beshear’s lieutenant governor, Jerry Abramson, a former Louisville mayor, who said that local taxes couldn’t be raised without acceptance of local voters.

Beshear’s administration has had to reduce the state funds yearly since he took office in 2007. Starting with December, that work will be controlled by a new budget director, Jane Driskell, a veteran government finance staffer.

Beshear said Driskill’s great knowledge in dealing with budgetary management concerns will be helpful as his administration implements the recent budget and drafts future ones.

Driskell began her government career in 1985 as a policy and budget analyst in the Governor’s Office for Policy and Management.


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