Are House lawmakers trying to drive Massachusetts’ mom-and-pop stores out of business? Maybe not, but a recent decision certainly isn’t designed to protect those stores.
Legislators recently approved a package of tax hikes that includes a whopping $1 increase on a pack of cigarettes.
On the surface, that sounds like a good idea. Increase the tax on cancer-causing cigarettes and use the money to help fund the state’s struggling health-insurance system. It’s a win-win, right?
The new tax will increase the cost of a carton of cigarettes to about $68. The same carton costs about $33 in New Hampshire. So if you live anywhere near the border, where are you likely to purchase cigarettes, along with the bread, milk and other items you may need?
We support the portion of the package that closes business tax loopholes, which are estimated to produce about $217 million for the fiscal year starting in July.
But our biggest question is: Where are the state’s spending cuts? Unless a Proposition 2 1/2 override is approved by voters, cities and towns will have to reduce their budgets, slashing programs and sometimes people, to close their budget gaps. But the state traditionally raises taxes to make ends meet.
Where is the fiscal prudence?
House Speaker Sal DiMasi promises that legislators soon will discuss the part of his budget plan that includes reductions of at least $100 million, as well as finding savings and efficiencies in state government.
Perhaps legislators should look at this as a challenge and prove us wrong by making the tough decisions.