Opinion Columns & Blogs

Will GOP change tune on cigarette tax hike?

It will be interesting to see how the Legislature’s GOP leaders respond to Gov. Sam Brownback’s call to raise cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack and also to hike liquor taxes. Back in 2004, after then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and then-Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger proposed a 50-cent-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes to fund health care coverage for more low-income Kansans, Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, referred to that “monster tax increase on cigarettes” as “the single best thing we could do for the Missouri economy.” (Missouri’s cigarette tax of 17 cents per pack is the nation’s lowest.) Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, now Senate president, said that “our approach isn’t going to be, tax one group and give it to someone else.” Of course, Brownback seeks to increase taxes on tobacco and liquor buyers to help pay for the income tax cuts that already have benefited primarily business owners. – Rhonda Holman