I have remained silent over the past several years as the state of Maine has unfairly targeted smokers in an effort to balance the budget. But I can no longer contain my outrage. Gov. John Baldacci’s new budget proposal intends to increase the cigarette tax to the highest in the nation.
I am encouraged to see the budget proposal includes a consolidation of school district administration, and to merge the Department of Economic and Community Development with the Department of Professional and Financial Regulations. Those are steps in the right direction. Increasing taxes, even if it is directed at “easy targets,” is not.
In this politically correct atmosphere, smokers are the first choice to target in an effort to balance the budget. The premise that the cigarette tax was to offset health care costs imposed on the state by smokers does not hold water at this point. It is clearly the easiest way to solve a budget shortfall.
Enough is enough. The Baldacci administration needs to do an honest and thorough audit of all state agencies, especially the Department of Health and Human Services. I bet there is a considerable amount of money to be saved in further consolidation and elimination of outdated and wasteful programs.
If the state and federal governments truly feel that cigarettes are dangerous to the health and well-being of citizens, then they should have the moral courage to ban them entirely.
I doubt they could bear to relinquish the tax dollars.
David F. Dean, Buckfield