Smokin' | Arkansas Blog

Smokin'

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The tobacco lobby's front men -- a gang of Republicans -- have filed their window dressing to oppose a tobacco tax. They'd pay for a trauma system -- but not all the other health initiatives for kids and seniors the governor has proposed -- with a roster of court cost increases, including $25 more for all moving traffic violations.

Problem: It's a pipedream. Many of these court costs are uncollectable. Revenue estimates are iffy.

UPDATE: A reader sends along a handy official state summary of the experience of collecting fines and costs in district courts -- about 40 percent go unpaid. (Sort of like a certain state rep's erstwhile creditors, including DFA.)

Don't tell me this bill would take the money off the top. Not without first killing a long list of other special interests with their own court fees already authorized. The debate is almost pointless. This is legislative dead meat, only intended as misdirection.

Finally, a legislative source says even the imaginary fees would raise only $17 million, meaning $11 million of the $28 million trauma system would have to come from general revenue. So the Repubs would turn a $200 million health program into an insufficient trauma system and cuts in other programs.

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