Why do sin taxes always have to be accompanied by budget sins?
That's the question raised by new legislation, introduced by Santa Barbara's Democratic Assemblyman Das Williams, to impose a $10 per person sin tax on establishments that combine live nude entertainment and booze.
I'm all for sin taxes, since such establishments have all kinds of societal costs that must be accounted for.
But Williams -- following the bad precedent of previous tax proposals on alcohol, cigarettes and other vices -- combines his worthwhile tax with bad budget policy.
Instead of sending the revenues from the tax into California's famously hemorrhaging general fund, Williams carves out a special new fund for the revenues.
This fund, the Sexual Assault and Treatment Fund, would reserve moneys only for programs that deal with those very issues.
Those programs are worthy, but the state has many worthy programs that are funded out of the general fund but have been cut and eliminated as the general fund is squeezed by special mandates like this one.
Williams, in trying to solve one problem, is contributing to the larger budget problem. (Of course, with a two-thirds requirement in California for new taxes, this legislation isn't going anywhere).
Assemblyman, your views on nude dancers are understandable. But you should realize that sin taxes are much better when they're naked, instead of being dressed up in new mandates and special funds.