The last few weeks have been truly historic… the Clean Indoor Air bill was signed into law in Kansas and President Obama signed into law a massive federal health reform bill. Both of these historic events were accomplished after many years of hard work. It was not a sure thing either bill would pass until the final vote was counted. But what a difference these two pieces of legislation will make.
So many people deserve praise for these two pieces of legislation. Governor Parkinson and President Obama deserve much praise for their leadership. In Kansas, a bipartisan group of legislators showed the nation that progress can still be made by Democrats and Republicans working together on a common cause. And let’s not forget the army of dedicated, hard working grass roots organizers that spent countless hours in Kansas and across the nation, educating and inspiring people to take action. It wasn’t easy for these common folks to combat the large amount of money spent by special interest lobbyists who were opposed to any change. It was these common folks who took on the special interest lobbyist and won!
We are living in tough economic times. State and federal budgets are experiencing unprecedented cuts. The number of underserved is growing dramatically and unemployment is almost at 10%…even higher in many low income areas. It is easy to give up and put our heads down and think the problems are too big to be solved. In these moments of despair…think back to what we has happened in the last several weeks.
How can we, the common folks, help each other get through these trying times? One thing we can do is encourage Kansas and Missouri to increase their revenue, while also improving the health of those in our community, by increasing the cigarette tax. Missouri will soon will have the lowest state cigarette tax in the nation. Kansas is also far from average. As the past few weeks have shown, we can do anything if we put our mind and energy to it. Let’s not accept this. Let’s work together and fight to increase the tax on tobacco.