We all understand his reasons. Taxes are bad. He made a personal pledge not to raise taxes. In many ways, at least to him, his political career hangs on his “no new tax” pledge.
There are some legislators who will stick up for him despite the fact they voted for the cigarette tax extension weeks ago. It also appears a number of those unwilling to move away from the Governor’s mistake are supporting him for the sake of the party.
The reason I am “smoking mad” is because he has made this vote a personal one. He has put his own image right smack on the front of a pack of cigarettes—“Jindal Sticks”. He knows if his veto is overridden by the legislature, the Governor gets stuck with a big loss and looks bad.
But, should the legislature follows his lead, how would the state look?
Even worse, is what he and others supporting him on this legislation are doing? They would be supporting the party or the reputation of this Governor on an ill-conceived litmus test of conservatism while ignoring the welfare of our state.
It is well documented that Governor Jindal is driven by his national political future more than most politicians in the history of the state. By supporting Governor Jindal’s future on this vote, we would be bolstering his private aspirations at the expense of the State.
It has been well described that Louisiana will be losing roughly forty-eight million dollars in revenue (the tax and federal match). This would mean we would be forced to pay for the same health care services but with less dollars.
By supporting Governor Jindal’s political future on this vote, the State of Louisiana will be sending a message to our younger generation that it is ok to smoke and that we value a false political slogan of “no new taxes” over their health, their lungs, their hearts and their futures in being smoke-free.
By supporting Governor Jindal on this vote, we are telling the world that we will support his policy of raising our young students college tuition, substantially raising the contributions of many of our hard-working government employees but approve putting his foot in the sand on the political arbitrary interpretation of the word “tax”. Yes, arbitrary because House speaker Jim Tucker has ruled that the employee contribution is a tax, yet our Governor says it’s not and we need the money. Well, by our governor’s way of thinking, not renewing an existing tax on cigarettes is a tax cut. In fact, we would be helping many of those who privately wish they never starting putting poisons in their systems in the first place.
If we fail to override this pro-cigarette veto backed by Big Tobacco and Big Lobby, in a few weeks after this legislative session, our Governor will be able to parade around the country raising money for his own reelection from people who will not pay a single penny towards the state’s skyrocketing share in healthcare costs directly related to smoking.
Instead of encouraging our society to stop smoking, we are making it easier for those already hooked on these instrumentalities of death. We will be helping our kids who are already easily influenced to buy a smoke to be Joe Cool, who then then start buying packs and paying for lifetime of addiction.
Governor Jindal’s decision was a false one and a wrong one. By sizably reducing the revenues we take in from the tobacco tax that goes directly to our already imploding healthcare, we are falling in the wrong direction making it so much more difficult for us to ever get up. Other states are raising the cigarette taxes to pay for the drain on their state’s treasuries and their citizens’ pockets due to smoking. Our smokers are not on the lowest butt of the tax scale but they reportedly pay a whopping one dollar less per pack than the national average.
Louisiana has already been awarded the state with the worst health and Governor Jindal’s decision will continue to nail our coffins tight further with cheap stogies.
So, let us vote to keep our Governor’s political career in tact while the cost of our “Jindal sticks” go down and the social costs climb --all because we want to adhere to a “no tax pledge” for the sake of a political career. Let’s forget that it puts more of a burden on each taxpayer and future state budgets by creating greater access to a dangerous way of life.
Let’s back his veto. After that, let’s all light up one of those “Jindal Sticks” up in victory.
(SEE HOW HOUSE MEMBERS VOTED)
by Stephen Sabludowsky
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