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Examiner
  • Independence school board endorses tobacco tax

  • The Independence Board of Education voted to approve a resolution Tuesday in support of Proposition B, the tobacco tax. The initiative, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot, proposes a 73-cent tax increase on all tobacco products. The estimated $283 million generated in new revenue would be divided among public schools, higher education and smoking cessation programs.

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  • Missouri ranks 51st in the United States when it comes to taxes on cigarettes, and the Independence Board of Education does not believe that is something to brag about.
    “This could have a very significant financial impact on us,” said Independence Superintendent Jim Hinson. “But while we certainly welcome that, the most important use of the additional funds is for smoking cessation programs that prevent kids and adults from smoking.”
    The Independence Board of Education voted to approve a resolution Tuesday in support of Proposition B, the tobacco tax. The initiative, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot, proposes a 73-cent tax increase on all tobacco products. The estimated $283 million generated in new revenue would be divided among public schools, higher education and smoking cessation programs. It has so far been endorsed by the Missouri School Boards’ Association, the American Cancer Society, the America Heart Association and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, among others. Strongly against the initiative is the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.
    Even if the ballot measure passes, Missouri would still only rank 33rd in the country when it comes to cigarette taxes. In comparison, New York has a cigarette tax of $4.35 per pack, the highest in the country. Currently, Missouri charges 17-cents per pack, while Kansas has a 79-cent tax on cigarettes.
    “The fiscal impact is very large for us,” said Deputy Superintendent Dale Herl. “Based on projected revenues, we could receive an additional $2.2 to $3.4 million annually. It is not only fiscally significant, but from a health standpoint, is also very significant to our district and community.”
    While board members agree that Proposition B could be very beneficial to the Independence School District, some worry that the Missouri Legislature could vote to change the ballot issue, reducing the amount of additional money public schools would receive. That fear stems from what has been done with casino and lottery dollars. In some cases, money was taken away from other parts of school funding, offsetting any potential new revenue.
    “Because this is not a constitutional amendment and is an initiative petition, the legislature could alter what the voters approve,” Hinson said. “They could alter it with approval from the governor.”
     
     
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