Letter to the Editor; State Rep. Ellinger Talks Cigarette Tax, China Hub

Rory Ellinger is a Democrat who represents Page dale, University City and Wellston in St. Louis County (District 72) in the Missouri House of Representatives.

The summer is ending and as we head into the veto session of the legislature I wanted to share some of my recent activities.

We all know the challenges our state is facing fiscally. And with the devastation of the spring tornadoes in Joplin, St. Louis and elsewhere, recovery will tap the budget even more.

Recently I wrote a letter to the editor of the Post-Dispatch (bit.ly/Post-Dispatch) suggesting we should consider raising our extremely low tax on cigarettes to raise funds for disaster recovery.
At 17 cents/pack our rate is one of the lowest in the country. We also have a very high rate of teenage smoking, which is certainly related.
In my mind, the fiscally responsible path is to reduce health care
costs and prevent deaths from smoking by raising taxes on each pack.

However, according to a recent story in the St. Louis Beacon (bit.ly/StLouisBeacon) the Governor has rejected the idea.

I also repeated my call for the state to collect sales tax from online purchases - which is not a new tax but simply the collection of an existing tax. When I see the struggles of small businesses in University City, Wellston and Pagedale, I know we need to do everything we can to protect them, and the jobs they create.

I am still weighing the pros and cons of the China Hub. I share the desire to increase jobs, but am concerned about the likely success of such a project, especially when it comes at the expense of food banks and senior programs. Please write me at rory@ellingerforstaterep.com with your thoughts. I welcome your comments.

Finally, I have been visiting with local officials and experts on a number of issues, and even some reporters. One of the publications I read regularly is the St. Louis American, which wrote a story about my comments about a colleague in the House, admiring her efforts to secure investments in her District (http://bit.ly/StLAmerican).

I’ll write after the September session to let you know what transpired.

Rory Ellinger
State Representative, 72nd District


Editors’s Note: The views expressed are not those of University City Patch nor its editorial staff, and solely reflect those of the author. This content has not been edited other than to fix spelling or grammatical errors.

Sam Lawrence September 09, 2011 at 05:39 AM
I smoke too many cigarettes, but if Governor Nixon is accurate when he states that "86 percent of the state's income comes from sales and income taxes," (from The Beacon article link) then the cigarette tax increase and on-line sales tax creation (I doubt a typical small business' portion of revenue is dependent on on-line sales, but I don't know numbers) is not simply an opportunity to balance the many risks associated with the Aerotropolis tax break, but is an opportunity for Missouri to Show Me and show DC that compromise is a viable alternative to the "us-against them" mentality that taints our current two-party system. Please remain steadfast in your calls for the increases.


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