Dozens of students in yellow t-shirts reading “Smoke-Free Generation” stood beside Governor Mark Dayton at the State Capitol today, as he turned up pressure on Republicans to rescind tobacco tax cuts. Dayton signed the tax cut measure as part of the budget, he says to avoid state government shutdown, but then vetoed operating funds for the legislature to try to force Republicans back to the bargaining table on tobacco taxes and four other controversial issues. Top GOP lawmakers are threatening to sue him, but Dayton says he’s trying to set up a meeting for next Tuesday.
Mounds View High School junior Meghan McFarling points to peer pressure as a big factor in young people using tobacco. She says, “Everybody else is doing it. It’s a whole pressure kind of thing. So I think that by raising the taxes and by keeping the taxes high, people won’t be as focused on trying to buy tobacco products.”
Republicans contend tobacco taxes are one of the most regressive forms of tax, and increasing them hits low- and middle-income Minnesotans the hardest.