Friday, January 12, 2007

Spending The Windfall

Well I do believe the site is back up and stable after my little escapade with my web host. It is amazing how quickly things get done when you bypass the techies and head directly to the sales department. One email to them intimating that various webmaster forums would be hearing about how my sites were shut down resulted in an amazingly fast resolution to my problem.

Now to the business at hand, a few days into this years session, the RCJ is reporting on a new plan being proposed by Republicans to spend some of the newly inherited tobacco tax windfall on education, Medicaid, and property tax relief. They are proposing to use $135 million of the new tax over the next 5 years to help prop up these long ignored problems in our state.

The plan earmarks $45 million over that period to go towards property tax relief, and another $45 million each to be routed to schools and Medicaid. On the surface this is a huge step forward for 3 major issues facing our state but like the article mentions and something I also question is how much of that planned revenue increase will actually be collected. I have heard many stories of people crossing state lines to buy their cigarettes and many more are planning on quitting (easy to talk about but very hard to do).

With that uncertainty hanging over our heads with this revenue stream, are we going to be talking about severely underfunded schools and property tax op-outs all over again in a few years? It will be interesting to see how this proposal shakes out over the remainder of the session. But at least with the Sutton debacle out of the Senates hands, at least until the State Supreme Court makes it's ruling, real state issues are finally being discussed.

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