Sunday, April 20, 2008

Budget thoughts, part 2

It has been a while since part 1, but here are some more thoughts, mainly about revenue.

The budget we passed was quite lean, due to lower revenues. There was a bill passed to increase taxes by raising the cigarette tax, along with several other taxes. It passed the House 50-45, but never received a hearing in the Senate.

There were mixed feeling in the district about the cigarette tax. Most calls I received were against it. However, the was some real support for it also.

I voted against the tax increase, and here is why. There are many methods of either increasing revenue or saving money that can be implemented. These should be addressed before we look at raising taxes. These options include:

Repealing the prevailing wage law. I have talked length about this issue on this blog. We are looking at savings of $250-500 million per biennium.

Expanded gaming. This need no explanation, as it has been talked about plenty. Estimated revenue: $600 million to 1.2 billion per biennium.

Allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores. Currently, you can't buy wine in grocery stores. I don't understand why. Estimated revenue: $20-25 million per biennium.

You may not agree with all these options. Good people disagree on these issues and that is OK. But I feel that these need to be given the chance to pass before we look at raising taxes. My suggestions would generate between $870 million to $1.725 billion per biennium. The low end would mitigate the cuts in the budget, the high end would provided additional revenue needed for human services, education, and possibly even tax cuts that would spur economic development or eliminating the state portion of the car tax.