State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
One has to wonder how this idea got by Wisconsin Democrats.
It’s called the bag tax. Fifteen states have proposed charging for paper, plastic bags or both ranging from five cents in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia to 25 cents in Hawaii and the city of Baltimore.
The rationale offered by the bag taxers is that the additional charge will lead more consumers to reject paper and/or plastic and a cleaner environment will result. Like most good-intentioned policies, this one comes up short.
The Tax Foundation in
How is the
Because the intended use of the bag tax is being altered, that makes the additional charge per bag, by definition, a tax as opposed to a fee. Proponents of the charge have preferred spinning it as a fee, claiming those paying stand to benefit. However, revenue collected and results have both been minimal. So the fee is actually a tax, just another means of seeking general revenue.
One of the consequences of a bag tax has consumers rushing to buy paper or plastic bags in bulk. In essence, as the Tax Foundation emphasizes consumers will “purchase products that have the same chance of ill effects as grocery bags.” In
Proponents can be their own worst enemies. Seattle bag taxers oversold the concept, making ambitious pitches that the extra revenue would lead to reduced greenhouse emissions, reduced landfill deposits, and less street and ocean litter.
I suspect that despite the many question marks, bag tax proposals will surface across the country. Read more from the Tax Foundation.