The Republican House leadership scrapped a vote on the controversial Tobacco tax bill, Wednesday. They appear to have even less support for the confiscatory revenue measure than last May. Under the tobacco tax bill's language, the effective state sales tax equivalent on any tobacco tax would be 55%. Imagine the boldness of a govt. which would lay claim to such piracy. If a gas station hiked the price of fuel
Part of the unofficial structure of the state legislature is the party caucus. the Republicans & Democrats each have a caucus chairman whose duties include bringing together members of the party who identify with a common set of principles.
But the House Republican Caucus is massive, and massively diverse on so many issues. There are several who have all but given up on the Republican Caucus to provide a worthwhile use of their time. Attendance appears to be falling off.
When you add to that the potential for bullying, heckling, and scolding; some legislators say that they experience so much stress and discouragement that they have little enthusiasm for attendance at the Republican Caucus meetings.
Of the 72 Republican House members, less than 60 are currently even remotely supportive of the new confiscatory tax.
The legislature wants a reliable revenue source. Having a chemically addicted smoking population is now seen as a windfall for the politicians who seek to fund an ever-growing and unreformed state government. The current state tax on a pack of cigarettes is $1.03. The new proposal would raise the tax to $2.53 per pack. Sociologists know from many studies and govt. data that taxing tobacco does not suppress consumption in the way other legal products are impacted. Smokers who lack the fortitude and self control to quit are hereby enslaved to the state via an unabashed tax bondage. Their only alternative besides quitting or submitting; is to seek products which are not subjected to the $2.53 tax on each pack.
There are legal ways to avoid the massive taxes right here in Oklahoma. The North American Indian tribes have a compact with the state which allows some of them to avoid significant taxes. The Tulsa south metro region has the Muscogee Creek tribe which charges essentially the same tax as the other retailers, but the north side of Tulsa is in historic Cherokee territory and the tax is cut in half.
Another option is to buy in Missouri, which only collects 17 cents in taxes per pack. Sorta makes a Branson vacation more appealing for smokers, right?
Near both Tonkawa and Miami, OK there are smoke shops legally operating with special exemptions. They only charge about 6 cents per pack of cigarettes, according to the 2015 study results. Consumers can walk into those shops today and by a pack of cigarettes for as low as $2.67. For a '2-packs-a-day' smoker, the notion of driving to those select shops may result in legal tax avoidance of $3240 per year.
- Rep. George Faught's 'anti swag' bill has some bipartisan support. Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor has offered to cosponsor the measure which failed to get a proper presentation in last May's JCAB. The Majority Floor Leader also supported in last May. But the $30 million reform initiative has no via path to a floor vote until the House leadership changes course and releases it from the Rules Committee.
- Rep. Calvey has a way to move money away from school bureaucrats and provide teachers a $5000 pay raise with the savings, but it too, is locked in the Rules Committee.
- A similar idea to Calvey's is a reform to adjust the average class size up by 2 students. It would free up another $5000 in annual teacher pay. Oklahoma currently spends more than California on per-pupil on teacher pay. But since our classes are so small, our teachers are barred from getting more pay.
- Millionaire Oklahoma families are receiving millions in subsidized state college tuition, but no one seems to be ready to 'means-test' the nearly billion dollars that goes to the Higher Ed. Regents, rather than the struggling students of lower income families seeking to go to college.