On Tuesday, the Cigarette Tax Bill — SB 2326/HB 2354 — is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means committee.Â This bill is the basis for substantial education funding improvements proposed by the Governor this year.
It’s also likely to be considered in the House Agriculture committee on Tuesday, where it faces a much more substantial challenge.
Last Tuesday, the Tennessee School Boards Association joined with other members of the education, business and health community as part of the SchoolsFirst Coalition to endorse the Governorâ€™s plan.Â Their website has information detailing the benefits to each school system in the state under various parts of the Governor’s proposal, but all of it is predicated on funding.Â To date, I haven’t heard anyone propose specifics for another funding mechanism — only the usual drivel about cutting waste in other areas.
I really don’t care whether it comes from a cigarette tax or from not spending it to support things like the film commission, horse racing commission, or buying up land for conservancy… but please, if you oppose the cigarette tax AND claim to support education, suggest exactly where those dollars should come from.
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Hubby and I just returned from most of a week in northern Michigan, where the very cheapest of generic cigarettes are over $5/pack.Â Yet, there still seem to be plenty of smokers there.Â When I pointed out the pricing to him, he suggested that eventually, all states will tax tobacco out of existence.Â I disagree.
I’ve been smoke-free for 42 days now (that’s six weeks).Â The difficulty of NOT going outside, lighting a cigarette, and watching the vestiges of night flee the first rays of the sun with the kick and subsequent calm that only inhaled nicotine can deliver, is still painfully fresh on my mind (and body).Â Were it not for the fact that I chose to quit because I was tired of being a slave to the addiction — tired of the third-rate hotel rooms, tired of standing in the rain for my fix, tired of feeling like an outcast — yes, I would have gladly paid $5 for a day’s worth of satisfaction.
Even with the 40-cent tax, cigarettes will still be cheaper here than in a lot of other places, including several that I’ve traveled through in the last few days.
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It’s time to quit squabbling over a too-small educational pie, and get serious about being competitive nationally.Â In my 34 hours in the car over the past week, I listened to Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which provides a very interesting view of why some parts of the country do a better job of supporting education, and how it relates to the ethnic background of the region’s settlers.Â If you’re easily offended, don’t read or listen to it, but if you’re really interested in some astute (and surprising) observations that likely assault your own ethnic heritage along with everyone else’s, it’s fascinating.