Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently announced another round of very deep and troubling budget cuts. Both Governors’ gave a clear signal that more budget cuts would be forthcoming unless the economy significantly improved very soon.
I wonder when one or more of our elected officials will provide leadership and say that we have cut enough and now it is time to look for more state revenue. Obviously, this kind of public policy stance will not be popular in some places but it would be very welcome news in places that care for school age children/young adults and with social services and health agencies that care for the poor, disabled, mentally ill and the elderly. Frankly, every segment of state government is suffering …including our roads, parks, natural resources, corrections, conservation, agriculture and economic development agencies that are trying to create more jobs.
Missouri has the second lowest cigarette tax in the nation. If Missourians had agreed to increase the tax we charge on cigarettes a few years ago, much of the budget problems we face today would not be in play. While Kansans pay a higher tax on their cigarettes, leaders in both states have the ability to increase their state revenues by increasing the cigarette tax, while at the same time lowering the number of folks who smoke…especially young children who tobacco officials have targeted with their advertising.
Each state also has tax credits that need to be reviewed to make sure they are working properly and that the state is benefiting as the law intended when it was passed. Why do we not tax sales made on internet transitions? We have a new internet economy and we have the ability to increase our state revenues dramatically while at the same time provide an equal playing field for retailers who only provide sales in retail store.
Now is the time for bold leadership … now is the time to look for increased revenues to fund necessary public services to the citizens of our two states.