I-185 is being touted as a health measure. Raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by $2 will encourage more people to quit smoking and pay for Medicaid expansion they say.
Hospitals are promoting I-185 for more than a health reason. It is guaranteed income for them and bypasses the discussion in the legislature to put some side boards on Medicaid expansion.
It was projected that 40,000 people would be eligible for expansion four years ago. There are now over two times that number on the program. Did you know that millionaires on paper i.e. large landowners showing little income and religious colony members who pay no taxes are part of the expansion? Is this sustainable?
If you don’t smoke, vape or chew this initiative won’t affect you, they say. This “sin” tax is only one, however. When there isn’t enough sin tax from smoking there will be other sins to visit.
Should there be a $2 tax on that flight of brewskis at your favorite brewery? How about $2 a cocktail at the local distillery? Then again, let’s hit the sin of gambling. Are you willing to pay the state 2 percent of that lucky ticket?
Be careful at the ballot box when increasing the tax on someone else’s sin. The government will figure out a way to add yours when they don’t have the money to fund it!
I believe we should all contribute to help our neediest population with health care issues. Don’t vote for I-185 to be the beginning of a sin tax by initiative. Big brother will be coming after you next.
Republican Dee Brown, of Hungry Horse, represents Senate District 2 in the state Legislature.