Those of us who came of age in the hippie era will remember a peace quote: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
This election cycle in Missouri, we might well paraphrase that sentiment as: “It will be a great day when our public schools get additional funding and smokers will pay an additional 73 cents a pack.”
The KC Education Enterprise is recommending a “Yes” vote for Proposition B, because the state has not fully funded public education since the start of the Great Recession, and schools need all the help they can get.
However, we find it embarrassing to be recommending a “Yes” vote. Embarrassing, because having to resort to a cigarette tax shows just how unbalanced priorities are in this state. Education should be fully funded, period. It’s in the best interest of our future, our communities, our economy and our students. The state should not have to resort to taxing cigarettes to help finance schools.
That said, Missouri does have the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, so it is not unreasonable for voters to raise it and target the funds for three good causes: education, health care and smoking cessation education.
Of course, when the tax increase passes, we’ll need to keep an eye on the state legislature and make sure they spend the funds as directed by the public …
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