The Columbia Chamber of Commerce board of directors has formally endorsed Proposition B, a measure on the November ballot that would raise in the state’s tobacco sales rate to 90 cents per pack.
Currently, Missouri has the lowest tax rate on tobacco products of all 50 states. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce endorsed the proposition Tuesday after hearing presentations from both sides of the issue.
Don Laird is the president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; he says fear of increased taxation is the reason for Missouri’s historically low taxes.
“I think it’s just tradition, no one likes to raise taxes especially our Columbia Chamber of Commerce but it’s, sometimes there are services that benefit from our taxes naturally,” says Laird.
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce says the tax increase would generate around 283 million dollars total revenue. Fifty percent of the annual revenue would go towards secondary and elementary education, 30 percent for public higher education and 20 percent for public health tobacco use prevention. The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenient Store Association is against Proposition B.
Ron Leone is the executive director of the association; he says a passed vote for Proposition B would negatively affect small businesses and Missouri’s competitive market with Border States.
“So we will be at a competitive disadvantage with 4 of our 8 border states and that means our small ma and pa businesses and even some of our larger businesses who rely on that critical cross border traffic, will close as a result of proposition B if it passes, people will lose their jobs and ultimately we will be generating much less tax revenue for state and local coffers because of that decrease in sales from those critical higher tax border states,” says Leone.
The decision on Proposition B will be left up to Missouri voters on November 6th.