Prioritizing Tax Revenue over People

PennLive recently published an editorial analyzing the General Assembly’s actions—or lack thereof—on key issues during the last two weeks of the legislative session. Their views on the e-cigarette (vape) tax deserve special attention.

The editorial board writes in defense of keeping the tax in place:

We'll also credit lawmakers for what they didn't do: They didn't punch a $13.3 million hole in the budget by revising the state's new tax on eCigarettes (one can also debate the rosiness of that projection).

Lawmakers should not get “credit” for failing to repeal a tax that has forced more than 60 shops out of business. The editorial board’s indifference to the plight of small business and the damage of the tax is stunning. 

PennLive celebrates the legislature’s inaction because it may result in higher revenues for state government. In a choice between saving small businesses and sending more money to Harrisburg, the board chose the latter—even though revenue projections surrounding the tax are dubious.

Still, if the state captured every penny of the $13.3 million projected to be raised by the vape tax, it would cover 0.04 percent of projected spending in the General Fund budget

PennLive's editorial board cannot envision a scenario in which the legislature saves small businesses and balances the budget. CF can. And it involves cutting just a small portion of the $800 million in special subsidies the state hands out every year to companies like Aramark and Amazon.

“A win-some, lose-some final week for the General Assembly” was the title of the board’s editorial. That’s not how people in the vaping community see it. Many have lost their livelihoods, and knowing the state will have a little more money to spend, as a result, is little consolation.