Cigarette tax would fund early childhood programs St. Joseph News-Press Missouri voters will decide in November on a cigarette tax that would raise funds for early childhood programs. Amendment 3 would establish a 60-cent per pack tax on cigarettes, phased in at 15 cents per year over four years. A group called Raise Your Hand For Kids is running a campaign in support of the issue. Pat Dillon has been a longtime supporter of the United Way’s Success by 6 program in St. Joseph, and currently volunteers with Raise Your Hand For Kids to spread information about the upcoming vote. Dillon said Buchanan County would receive an estimated $4.8 million per year in revenue from the tax once it reaches the full 60-cent level in year four. “It’s going to bring money right to St. Joseph and Buchanan County that we can use in the early education field, whether it’s Parents as Teachers, or helping early childhood educators get more education, or help with scholarships to get kids into child care,” Dillon said. “It’s money we’re going to get to use right here, and we get to help decide and really determine where we’re going to use it.” Erin Brower, board chair of Raise Your Hand For Kids, said the money would go through the pre-existing Missouri Coordinating Board for Early Childhood to avoid creating new levels of bureaucracy. All revenue would go into a “lockbox” so lawmakers in Jefferson City could not reallocate it for other uses. Local level groups like Success By 6, school districts, or Parents As Teachers would be able to apply for funds, which would be allocated geographically based on population. “Local control was always our top priority in this,” Brower said. An estimated 75 to 85 percent of revenue from the tax would pay for early childhood education such as preschool, home visitation, parent and family support and education, and public information coordination. Another 10 to 15 percent would go to hospitals and other health care facilities for preventative health care, obesity prevention, infant mortality prevention and health and development screenings. The remaining 5 to 10 percent would pay for smoking cessation and prevention programs for pregnant mothers and youth. Brower said that while the tax was on cigarettes, its primary goal was not to stop smoking; it simply used revenue from smoking to address a separate goal. “This is an early childhood initiative that happens to be funded by tobacco,” Brower said. Click here to read the full article.read moreThis initiative will benefit children, strengthen families and eventually help our Missouri businesses by growing a workforce that has the soft skills needed to compete in the 21st century. The ballot language is clear and correct and nothing will negatively impact medical research or any other field for that matter. Missouri is the dumping ground for cheap cigarettes because of our low tax rate. This will end subsidies for the off brand cigarette manufacturers and bring our state in line with our neighbors. And most importantly, we will no longer be one of the worst states for early childhood funding. If you want to continue to prop up cheap cigarette companies and protect their profits, then vote NO. If you think all tobacco compaines should play by the same rules and you want to invest in our children, then vote YesOn3!read more
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