For the last fifteen years, I have opposed a tax increase on cigarettes in Missouri. Unfortunately, some Republicans in the General Assembly are working to bailout our Attorney General, Chris Koster and his predecessor Governor Jay Nixon.
Currently, Koster is working on a settlement with Big Tobacco. A settlement made necessary by Governor’s Nixon’s failure as Attorney General to diligently enforce the agreement he signed with Big Tobacco! Now, the legislature is being asked to approve the terms of Koster’s settlement – in which one of the most significant is a new fee (aka, TAX) on Big Tobacco’s competitors.
Missourians remember that Koster has a history of helping his donors, highlighted in a New York Times article. Big Tobacco is no different.
The legislation raises taxes on Big Tobacco’s competitors by 400% and picks winners and losers in the market by siding with Big Tobacco. Some say it isn’t a tax but a government mandated fee is a TAX!
In addition, Big Tobacco is currently funding a campaign to raise taxes on their competitors by 350% known as “Raise Your Hand for Kids.” It is unclear how this legislation would affect this initiative petition if both passed.
This proposal approves the settlement for Attorney General Koster instead of forcing him to win an important court battle. A battle that has been won by other states such as Pennsylvania. It is unknown what promises Koster has made to the bill sponsors, but one thing is for sure – a bailout for Koster and Big Tobacco is bad policy for Missouri.