April 3, 2010 - Governor Gary R. Herbert allowed a cigarette tax increase of one dollar ($1) to float across his desk and become law without giving it a yea or nay. Yesterday, March 31st, was the Governor's last opportunity to veto the cigarette tax increase, but instead of doing so he took the passive approach and let the tax increase become law without his action. Herbert has repeatedly said he opposes increasing taxes, but the tobacco tax was built into the budget agreed to by him and legislative leaders.
The Legislature had built the $44 million in anticipated tobacco tax revenue into the budget, and Herbert said a veto would undo that balance. Herbert said in a statement that it would be fiscally irresponsible for him to veto the tobacco tax. He said a veto would create an imbalance in the state budget, particularly in the areas of public and higher education.
State lawmakers incorporated the tax into a budget bill that contains many programs that Herbert -- who has pledged not to support any new taxes -- favors. "Politics is the art of compromise," Herbert said. "Public education is my No. 1 priority. Am I going to come down on the side of education or am I going to veto the tobacco tax? I can't do both." Maybe this same approach should be used in South Carolina where Governor Sanford is poised to veto a tobacco tax increase - once again.
A pack of cigarettes will cost $1 more. The tax on cigars will increase from 35 percent to 86 percent of the manufacturer's sale price. And the tax on moist snuff, or dipping tobacco, will rise from 75 cents to $1.83 per ounce.
The tax takes effect July 1.
References: Utah Governor Gary Herbert Allows a Tax Increase: Not an April Fool's Joke, Nathan Pick, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), 4/1/2010; Despite no-tax stance, Herbert OK with $1 per pack hike on cigarettes by Robert Gehrke, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/12/2010; , Utah gov lets tobacco tax pass without signature, Associated Press, 3/31/2010.
Other Utah news briefs:
Provo, Utah - county warns about dangers of dissolvable tobacco products..;
Utah - lawmakers approve one dollar increase in tax on a pack of cigarettes - now measure goes to governor..;
Utah - increase tobacco excise tax by $1.00 - we doubt it will happen..;
Proposal to increase Utah cigarette tax falters..;
Utah - philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., supports big boost in tobacco tax..;
Utah Bars Go Smokefree January 1, 2009..;
Utah moves from a tax based on the percentage of sales price to one based on the weight - independent of price of smokeless tobacco product..