Here is a popular budget solution that nobody seems to be talking about: Raising the cigarette tax.
A new poll shows that two-thirds of North Carolinians would support raising the tax on cigarettes by $1.00 per pack to cut the state's budget deficit and to fund public health programs.
The survey, conducted for the North Carolina Alliance for Health, found that 62 percent support increasing the cigarette tax increase as a budget balancing measure but support jumps to 66 percent when some of the of the revenue is used to fund public health measures.
“At a time when North Carolina is dealing with a huge budge deficit, voters across North Carolina understand raising the tobacco tax is a smart way to tackle this problem and, more importantly, protect our kids from smoking,” said Pam Seamans, the group's executive director.
The survey of 500 registered North Carolina voters was conducted by the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies was conducted Feb. 8-10. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Eden, was recently asked whether he would support increases in so-called "sin" taxes. He responded that it is legal to smoke and drink and so he wouldn't want to be on record as calling them "sin" taxes.
He repeated his view that Republicans do not think the state's budget troubles are the result of too little revenue. Rather, he said, the problems are the result of too much spending, and so Republicans will look to cut rather than increase any taxes.