I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but the plastic/paper bag tax has been passed out of the environment committee.
The idea is that by charging $0.05 per paper or plastic bag, consumers will be forced to pony up a couple of bucks for reusable cloth bags. I’m not sure this will do much of anything. Many stores, including Stop & Shop, give a $0.05/bag discount for cloth bags. People still don’t buy the bags or forget them in the car.
It’s very difficult to legislate behavior. This is the problem I have with ever-higher cigarette taxes, for instance. For all the complaining some folks do about taxes, by and large if we want something we aren’t about to let a tax stand in our way. If we want a cigarette, we’ll go out and buy some, and if we want to fill up our car, we will. If we want plastic bags because cloth bags are too much work and we’re lazy bums, we’ll offer up a curse to the state and pay the thirty cents.
Now, if we want to try and change behavior, why not put a tax on dangerously shortsighted thinking instead? Dean Pagani writes the following must-read article at his site, Media Attache:
Buried under the pile of wreckage that is the Connecticut state budget is a secret incumbents of both parties don’t want you to know. Even if there had been no fiscal meltdown in the fall of 2008, chances are better than good, that Connecticut would be facing a severe budget deficit today.
Pagani blames the increase in education cost sharing grants (remember when Jodi Rell wanted to be the education governor? This is from then). Instead of raising the income tax as she had originally proposed, Rell, facing revolt in the GOP ranks, agreed not to raise taxes during the high surplus year of 2007, and covered the increase by basically building a deficit into future years’ budgets.
The result? Towns are now faced with the appalling choice of having to lay off teachers, close schools, or raise already high property taxes. The governor is now loathe to raise taxes in the face of a huge deficit, even at the cost of good education in Connecticut.
Oh well. Maybe a nice official state polka will cheer us all up.