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Governor needs to be upfront about what his bottle bill really is: another new tax

January 27, 2008
Apparently, Gov. Chet Culver needs a lesson in correct word definitions.

The governor wants to change the state’s bottle deposit law, and he wants to keep some of the money to boot.

Culver has proposed that retailers collect a deposit of a dime from consumers for each container of pop, beer, bottled water or sports drinks. But he only wants to give back 8 cents.

We’re not sure where Culver learned about deposits, but where we come from a deposit is only a deposit if you get your money back — all of it.

What the governor is actually proposing is a new tax, in essence another “sin” tax charged to those consumers who drink various products that don’t come out of a tap.

The Iowa Grocery Industry Association recently sounded off on the state’s bottle deposit law and reminded us that “when the bottle deposit concept was initially introduced, it was an effort to decrease litter. It was not intended to be Iowa’s recycling program. It certainly was not created to be a revenue source.”

But that’s exactly what Culver wants to turn the bottle deposit law into, a new revenue source. Under his proposal, one cent of the unreturned “deposit” will help cover the cost of handling the returns. The other goes to the state.

We fail to see how that isn’t a new tax. If the governor is interested in new revenue and raising taxes, he should be upfront about it, rather than disguising it in a new definition of the word “deposit.”

The Iowa Grocery Industry Association provides some interesting facts about beverage consumption and recycling: “Research from the Beverage Packaging Environmental Council shows only four percent of beverages in aluminum containers are consumed in cars — a whopping 88 percent are consumed at home or in the office. Only one percent of beverages in glass bottles are consumed in a vehicle versus 91 percent consumed at home or on the premises of a restaurant or bar.”

Knowing all that, the association questions if it wouldn’t make more sense to drop the state’s bottle deposit law altogether and instead take beverage containers to be recycled at the curb.

It might be an idea worth pursuing. Certainly it’s better than creating a new definition of the word “deposit” and trying to use that definition to hide what it truly is — a new tax.

Governor, deposits are only deposits when consumers get all of the money back. Get off the slippery slope you’ve started down and be honest with Iowa’s taxpayers about what you’re really proposing: a new “sin” tax to help fund another “pet project” we probably don’t need.



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