April 19, 2006

Wiggling Around No New Tax Pledges

It's fascinating to watch people make irresponsible promises and then realize they can't keep them.

So seems the story with most of the "no new tax" pledgers in the Blue Grass State. This article from Kentucky's Courier-Journal turned me on to the newest political game: raising money - but doing so without saying the dreaded "T" (tax) word.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, Kentucky's Governor Ernie Fletcher is one of 6 governors to sign the pledge saying that he will not support any new taxes. In the legislature, 42% of Kentucky Senators have taken the same pledge--and 32% of House members have limited themselves to governing without the ability to raise taxes to pay for roads, schools, health care or education.

So it would seem that if lawmakers pledge not to raise taxes then they must think that current levels of state revenues are sufficient. However, in Kentucky policy makers, including the Governor, are now realizing that perhaps more money is needed. But they've already taken and campaigned on a pledge that wouldn't allow them to raise taxes. This might put them in a bind, right? Yet, last week Kentucky lawmakers decided to tack on a 25 cent sales tax to the sale of cigarette roll papers to bring in $750,000 in increased revenue. How did they get out of this apparent flip-flopping?

Here's the kicker, legislators aren't considering this a tax at all.

Anybody in their right mind would call this a new tax, right? Actually the rhetoric around this new tax is what prompted this blog post. The Governor refused to admit he's breaking his pledge and instead is says this legislation is closing a "tax loophole." The speaker of the Kentucky House, Jody Richards, says that this is "not a tax increase, it's just tax equity."

Seems to me if something quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck - it's a duck. This new tax on cigarette papers is indeed a tax and just proves that some pledges are made to be broken.

This article will be highlighted in the upcoming addition of a Citizens for Tax Justice weekly email Digest which offers readers interesting articles about current tax and budget trends across the country. To subscribe to the Digest, just send an email to: ctj@ctj.org

1 Comments:

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