by Linda Moore
SMOKE FOR EDUCATION IN TENNESSEE!
I can see the billboards all across the state of Tennessee. They'll have that retro feel from the fifties showing folks smoking. Closer into Nashville and the Smoky Mountains we should put up neon signs with smoke spiraling from the cigarette tips. Tennessee's a quirky kinda state anyway. We have the lottery for education and now Bredesen and some members of the Tennessee legislature want us to smoke for education. In the mean time we have at least a 1.3 BILLION dollar surplus in taxes with several hundred million of that surplus being recurring. Why does Tennessee want to raise taxes in any genre when we have over a billion dollars in excess taxes? Why doesn't Bredesen and the legislature just say, "Let's spend these excess taxes on education and then get down to the business of state raises"?
Why do people smoke? As a former smoker I know the answer. It reduces stress. When one inhales the blood carries immediate stress relief through the blood stream. I know this. I didn't need biology or psychology classes or doctors to tell me. But all of those things confirmed it for me. As a former smoker I can tell you all that forty
cents a pack would not have stopped me. Nope, I would have scrounged around and dragged up an extra forty cents from somewhere for those cigarettes. It was me and the grace of God that caused me to quit. I liken it to perhaps being addicted to alcohol. Hey? How come we're not taxing the liquor and beer? More people drink than smoke. Alcoholism is a killer too! And it's a more stable source of revenue. What am I thinking? We have a minimum of a 1.3 Billion dollar surplus of your tax dollars; we don't need a tax increase of any kind!
I became very interested in the tobacco tax while reading another local paper. An article applauded Eric Watson for standing with Democrats in supporting anti smoking. At the same time the article trashed Dewayne Bunch and Kevin Brooks because they were pro people smoking. I was stunned for a few reasons. First of all I couldn't figure out why Eric Watson would be standing with the democrats and that he would be wanting to raise taxes with a 1.3 billion dollar tax surplus of your money. And it made no sense that Dewayne and Kevin would be advocating for folks to smoke. Wanting to get to the bottom line I e-mailed all three of them. All three of them answered my e-mails. I still have them in my in box. I am going to tell you where all three of your state representatives stand on education, smoking and a tobacco tax.
I got two e-mails from Dewayne Bunch for clarification. Bunch told me that he very much doesn't want folks to be affected by second hand smoke so he supported the "No smoking in public" law. He explained to me the surplus and the recurring surplus and said that there was no reason why we couldn't fund education from the get-go with the 1.3 billion dollar tax surplus of your money. He said there was even money to do more with. To sum it up, Bunch is not advocating for folks to smoke, Bunch is advocating for education and wants to address it first, Bunch knows the money is there. I agree with Bunch and I can live with his stance. I got a couple of e-mails from Kevin Brooks. Brooks told me that he was pro folks not smoking in public. He also told me he was an advocate of education in that he has two children in our public education system. Brooks said, "We have the money now", and again I had the 1.3 billion dollar surplus of your tax dollars explained to me and that several
hundred million dollars is recurring. Brooks went on to say that he would LOVE to have the taxes off groceries for folks. So he was supporting raising taxes on tobacco if we could get the taxes off groceries. Brooks is adamant about wanting taxes off of groceries. I'm not only agreeing with Brooks but I am ecstatic that he would try to get the taxes off of food for us. I applaud Brooks but I don't see any government dropping taxes.
I got an e-mail back from Eric Watson saying that he hadn't signed onto any tobacco tax because it changes every day. Watson further stated that he didn't know if he would ever sign onto any tobacco tax or not. Watson didn't say whether or not he had signed onto no smoking in public but I think that he did. But don't quote me. Watson didn't explain the surplus of 1.3 billion dollars of your tax money in Nashville but he did answer my question by saying he's not supporting any tobacco taxes yet and he gave his reason why.
I don't know why Bunch and Brooks were/are being trashed and that Eric is being applauded by another author in another paper. None of them have the stances they were attributed as to having. That is why I tell you dear reader, do not believe me, do not believe any other paper or on line source, seek out those state reps and ask them for the truth. Then follow up by looking at their voting records. I will give you my
personal opinion on this tobacco tax. My opinion has nothing to do with anything that anyone has written. The money is there, 1.3 billion surplus of your tax dollars, to spend on education and to give state raises. I am against tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend. The tobacco tax is an unstable revenue source as more folks quit every day. It is ridiculous to "Smoke for education", when tobacco has nothing to do with education and, in fact, pertains to health.
Call your reps, e-mail your reps, they'll answer you the same as they have answered me. Understand what is going on. By the way, if they do vote that tobacco tax in........ we would have to make up the revenue in higher taxes else where when folks did stop smoking. The money is there. 1.3 billion dollars that you paid in extra!