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SACRAMENTO -- Opponents to California's Proposition 29 have hit the airwaves to bring their message to the voters.
On June 5, California voters will go to the polls to vote on Proposition 29, a new measure that would impose an additional $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes and an equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products that would generate between $700 and $800 million annually. However, the No on 29 committee -- a coalition of more than 3,200 groups and individuals -- hopes voters will give the proposal a collective thumbs down.
Supporters say the money raised by this new tax would go into a special fund to finance research on detecting, preventing, treating and curing cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other diseases. The proposition also creates a nine-member board that will decide how to spend the money.
However, as Convenience Store News magazine's editor-in-chief Don Longo opined in the magazine’s upcoming May 1st issue, Prop 29 is flawed. It grows government in a state that already faces a $10-billion deficit; it puts millions of taxpayer money in the hands of unaccountable bureaucratic appointees; and it circumvents a requirement of the state constitution that 40 percent of all new tax revenue go to schools. In addition, this slush fund isn't even required to be spent in California, Longo stated in an editorial.
In addition, Prop 29 will be a major blow to the profitability of convenience stores in the state, he wrote.
As pointed out by Robinson Oil CEO Tom Robinson, whose Rotten Robbie c-store chain is based in Santa Clara, Calif.: "Anytime you raise the price of any product, you tend to encourage more black market sales and that really hurts both legitimate retailers and the state, which can't collect taxes on illegal sales."