Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Budget next steps

The final step for the Budget before it reaches Governor Doyle's desk is a conference committee, where representatives from both houses of the legislature will come together to reconcile the differences in their respective budgets. For most issues, this will be a difficult process; however, I think the issues SmokeFree Wisconsin supports offer legislators an opportunity to come together to address both parties' Budget goals.

  • $1.25 cigarette and tobacco products tax increase
    • I hope committee members will look at increasing the cigarette and tobacco products tax as a measure that will not only save lives, but also reduce taxes for Wisconsinites in the long run - 84,000 kids who will never become smokers as a result of higher cigarette prices will mean a lower medical assistance burden on taxpayers for years into the future.
  • Increase the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program funding to $30 million
    • I also hope that some legislators reevaluate their position on Tobacco Prevention and Control Program funding - anti-tobacco programming in Wisconsin has yielded a return on investment of nearly 3-1. Big Tobacco already has a huge financial advantage in our state - without population-specific prevention programs, the WI Tobacco Quitline, local tobacco control coalitions, and other components of a comprehensive tobacco control program, we're fighting with our arms tied behind our backs. Increasing program funding to a level recommended by the CDC will help us better address disparities in tobacco use, begin to make progress in areas currently underserved by the program, keep Wisconsin kids from starting to smoke, and help smokers quit. Those benefits are hard to argue with.
We'll keep you posted as soon as we find out which legislators will be serving on the conference committee and when their deliberations will begin.

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