Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Delegate Patrick Hope Proposes Car Tax Relief Plan


Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has introduced a plan to subsidize car tax relief by increasing taxes on tobacco products. From Delegate Hope's office:
Delegate Patrick Hope Announces Car Tax Relief

RICHMOND – Today, as the General Assembly begins its work for the 2012 legislative session, Del. Patrick Hope announced legislation that will raise the cigarette tax to $1.45 and dedicate the revenue to provide tax relief for Virginia families.

"What has stood in our way in the past has been a firm opposition to any tax increase of any kind,” said Delegate Hope. “What we're proposing today will cut in half the car tax at the expense of an out-dated policy that is one of our most significant public health threats we face."

Hope’s bill, HB 160 - will:
Raise the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.15, from $0.30 to the national average of $1.45;
Raise the excise tax on other tobacco products from 10% of the wholesale price to 50% of the wholesale price;
Direct 8% (approximately $23 million) to fund tobacco cessation and prevention programs in the Commonwealth.
Direct the remaining 92% of the revenue [approximately $265 million annually] to local governments to provide additional car tax relief.
Members of the public health community applauded the proposal to raise the cigarette tax. “The evidence is clear that increasing the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among children and pregnant women,” said Keenan Caldwell, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society. “Preliminary evidence confirms that every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax in recent years has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue, even while reducing cigarette sales. Virginia has nothing to lose and everything to gain from raising its cigarette tax.”

The Annual health care expenditures in Virginia directly caused by smoking are $2.08 billion, with $401 million covered by the state Medicaid program.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a $1.15 increase in Virginia’s cigarette tax would prevent more than 53,900 Virginia kids alive today from becoming smokers and prompt 56,700 adult smokers to quit, saving 32,600 Virginians from a premature, smoking-caused death.

“A significant tobacco tax increase combined with funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs will deliver the maximum health and economic benefit for Virginia. These steps will prevent kids from starting to smoke, help smokers quit, save lives, and save taxpayers money by reducing smoking-caused health care costs,” said Cathleen Smith Grzesiek, senior director of government relations for the American Heart Association.

Delegate Hope concluded that, "Prioritizing Virginia's tax code in this way makes perfect sense. Not only will we be able to provide significant tax relief to working middle-class families, it will save countless lives and reduce overall health care costs."
Patrick A. Hope is a Member of the Virginia General Assembly as the Delegate from the 47th District representing part of Arlington County. He serves on the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee.

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