Inside those budget numbers, Tennessee's tobacco tax collections burned Farr and the governor again. For the third straight month, tobacco taxes did not meet projections. In August, tobacco taxes were $14.1 million under budget. In September, smokin', chewin' and dippin' produced $9.6 million less in taxes than Bredesen hoped. For October, citizens sinned with tobacco $6.1 million less than the state anticipated.
Though the deficit has improved each month and Nashville may someday make its tobacco numbers, Tennessee has taken in only $61.5 million from tobacco taxes against a budget of $91.3 million. The $29.8 million shortfall is almost 33 percent below projections.
What happens if the economy and F&E collections continue to droop? What if too many people quit smoking and tobacco taxes never cough up enough to pay for Bredesen's school plan? There's always casinos. Or a state income tax.
Whoa! Anybody got a light?