Will taxing smokers make kids healthy?

Steve BucksteinGovernor Kulongoski wants the state to offer free or highly subsidized health insurance to all uninsured kids in Oregon by significantly increasing the cigarette tax. His “Health Kids Program” passed out of a House committee on a party line vote Friday and now goes to the Revenue Committee.

This, despite my testimony* listing several problems with the concept, including the concern that we would be taxing a group that has less income, less education, less employment and less health insurance than the average Oregonian.

Of course, smokers are also a relatively powerless minority, so they’re an easy target for those wanting to impose the next step in their vision of universal health insurance. We’ll have to see how this morality play plays out.

*Listen to the entire hearing. My testimony begins at 26:30.

Tobacco Revenues Prove Addictive

Oregon Economic Opportunity Project

Preface

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, taxing every sheet of printed paper used in the American colonies. The proceeds were to be used to help pay the rising cost of stationing thousands of British troops on the Appalachian frontier to defend the colonies. Many colonists found this tax to be outrageous not because of its economic cost (which was small), but because it was explicitly being used by England to raise revenues without the approval of the colonies. The resulting opposition to the Stamp Act was so great that a year later, the tax was repealed.

Like the Stamp Act, revenues from Oregon’s cigarette tax

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Taxing Oregon’s Tourists

Oregon Economic Opportunity Project

Summary

Oregon state and local governments levy over $268 million a year in lodging taxes, supposedly to benefit tourism and economic development. The unseen costs of such taxes, which include deterring tourists from visiting high-tax areas, and the arguable unconstitutionality of such “forced speech” levies should be reasons enough to repeal them. Private businesses and tourism organizations have great incentives to promote tourism themselves, and they will likely do a better job than government agencies if allowed to do so.

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Oregon’s New Umbrella: The Rainy Day Amendment

Steve BucksteinCascade Commentary

Summary

The Rainy Day Amendment responds to the fact that Oregon’s state budget grew twice as fast as population and inflation over the past ten years. It offers the best features of the Colorado spending limitation, which led to strong economic growth during the boom, while avoiding the worst features that kept Colorado from easily adjusting to the bust.

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Taxation is Uncivilized

Steve Buckstein

Cascade Commentary

Click here to read the report in PDF format

 

This year, as you endure the inconvenience and dread of filling out your federal and state income tax forms, consider looking at Tax Day in a new and revealing light.

Look beyond your relief at getting your forms in the mail before the midnight deadline. Look beyond the fact that you either underpaid all year and now must write a check to the government, or you overpaid and the government will eventually give you back some of your own hard earned money.

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Halfway There: Measure 5 and the Road Ahead

Preface

Watershed events often become dividing lines in history. Twenty-five years ago, Californians created such a line when they voted to reduce their property tax burden through Proposition 13. Thirteen years ago, Oregonians drew a similar line when they voted for Measure 5 to reduce their property tax burden.

Mythology surrounds such events, and Measure 5 is no exception.

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