Americans are decadent, so why not use that fact
to prop up government funds?
In his 11 years in the Washington Legislature, Representative Mark Miloscia says he has supported all manner of methods to fill the state’s coffers, including increasing fees on property owners to help the homeless and taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, most of which, he said, passed “without a peep.”
And so it was last month that Mr. Miloscia, a Democrat, decided he might try to “find a new tax source” — pornography.
The response, however, was a turn-off.
“People came down on me like a ton of bricks,” said Mr. Miloscia, who proposed an 18.5 percent sales tax on items like sex toys and adult magazines. “I didn’t quite understand. Apparently porn is right up there with Mom and apple pie.”
Mr. Miloscia’s proposal died at the committee level, but he is far from the only legislator floating unorthodox ideas as more than two-thirds of the states face budget shortfalls.
“The most common phrase you hear from the states is, ‘Everything is on the table,’ ” said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst with National Conference of State Legislatures, who predicted the worst financial year for states since the end of World War II. Nowhere is that more true than California, where Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a freshman from San Francisco, made a proposal intended to increase revenue, and, no doubt, appetite: legalizing and taxing marijuana, a major — if technically illegal — crop in the state. “We’re all jonesing now for money,” Mr. Ammiano said. “And there’s this enormous industry out there.”