Our Smoking Economy

Submitted by Roldo on Mon, 04/28/2008 - 15:33.

Cigarette smokers should be burned up.

The following figures tell why smokers should be fuming. Cuyahoga County smokers have been taxed for the following reasons and amounts since 1990:

Gateway: $80,358,035.32. That’s $80 million.

Browns Stadium: $8, 674,696.93. That’s $8 million for a tax that has a way to go.

Arts & Culture:  $20,847,515.38. That’s $20 million for a tax that just started a year and a month ago.

The figures are from the County Auditor’s office.

Pity the poor smoking addict. The irony, likely they can’t even smoke at any one of the events they help fund.

Why smokers – usually the working and often the poorer segment of the community – should have to endure so much of the tax burden suggests only the ease politicians have in passing taxes on to lower income people rather than taxing, for example, luxury items of the wealthy.

Of the taxes cited above, only the cigarette tax for Gateway has ended. The other two are still being collected.

The TOTAL cost of the three taxes from Cuyahoga County smokers: $109,880,447.63. That's $109 million and rising.

So far, that is. (Cry now Dick Feagler).

The cigarette tax for the arts will continue at a cost of some $15 million a year. The sin tax, including on cigarettes, to fund the Browns Stadium will continue until, I believe, 2016 or so. (Actually, August 2015)

These taxes fall only upon cigarette sales only in Cuyahoga County. So one could avoid the tax by going outside Cuyahoga County to buy cigarettes. Maybe cigarette “clubs” could make purchases for its "members" at out-of-county places every so often and deliver the buys to “members,” saving them quite a bit over time.

You will notice below that the organizations that get big money are the big cultural and arts organizations of Cleveland. They are organizations that have the means to do fund-raising among corporations and are usually well rewarded by Cleveland’s major foundations already.

Karen Sandstrom in the Plain Dealer wrote (http://www.cleveland.com/plaindealer/stories/index.ssf?/base/entertainme... )about the art/culture money recently.

In the article, Sandstrom wrote, “But if there’s a fear out there, many say it’s of a cigarette tax backlash effect – that corporate donors, individuals and even  foundations will reduce their contributions because they believe the tax now provides all the money arts organizations need.”

If the corporate bosses can shift costs to ordinary citizens via a regressive tax they don’t need to pay, of course, they will do that.  With the help of the County Commissioners Tim Hagan, Jimmy Dimora & Peter Lawson Jones and their predecessors it’s been rather easy.

However, the big arts and cultural organizations do get hefty funding from the city’s many foundations. For example, the Cleveland orchestra, the top funded organization with cigarette money, has net assets of $159 million and in a cursory look at funding from the Cleveland Foundation’ long list of donations in its latest IRS filing:  http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2005/340/714/2005-340714468-02685d... showed donations of $2.3 million in 2005 to the Musical Arts Association, operator of the Orchestra.

Why smokers have to be taxed to fund these major arts institutions that should have the ability to tap the rich of our community is beyond me. This is especially true when there are so many unmet needs in our community.

Poverty  (and its accompanying ills), of course, is an obvious need.

What we may be finding in the cigarette tax is that the corporations and the foundations not only want to shift the burden but have begun to understand that Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have reached beyond the point where the population can carry the many institutions here.

We are living beyond our means because of our once great wealth.

In other words, we have too many cultural, sports and arts organizations for the population and present wealth of the community to adequately fund. The below list of organizations funded by smokers hints at the problem. As the funding becomes better known, there will be countless other organizations that want a bite of the tax apple.

We don’t want to admit  we are living beyond our means and we don’t want to face the facts. But reality will intercede, I believe.

For information about the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the distributor of cigarette tax receipts, go to: http://www.cuyahogaartsandculture.org/cuyahoga.arts.and.culture.grant.in...  

Here is a total list of grants to arts/culture organizations thus far:

Cleveland Orchestra - $1,822,591.

Playhouse Square Foundation -$1,535,711.

Cleveland Museum of Art - $1,505,417.

ideastream - $1,022,286.

Cleveland Institute of Music - $924,270.

Cleveland Institute of Art - $902,303.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum - $880,479.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History - $620,006.

Great Lakes Science Center - $581,823.

Cleveland Botanical Gardens - $513,795.

Cleveland Playhouse - $495,273.

Western Reserve Historical Society - $358,598.

Opera Cleveland - $300,340.

Cleveland Musical Settlement - $256,497.

Great Lakes Theater Festival - $255,633.

Beck Center for the Arts - $180,915.

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage - $170,145.

Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art - $155,615.

Karamu House - $153,958.

Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio - $144,504.

Cleveland International Film Festival - $136,947.

Cleveland Restoration Society - $124,507.

Ingenuity: Cleveland Festival of Art/Technology - $110,042.

Intermuseum Conservation Association - $104,158.

Cleveland International Piano Competition - $90,782.

Apollo’s Fire - $88,285.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes - $86,263

Cleveland Public Theater - $82,073.

Children’s Museum of Cleveland - $86,928.

Cleveland POPS Orchestra, Inc. - $83,817.

Cleveland Public Art - $72,926.

Red (an orchestra) - $72,190. This is one worthy effort that has already hit the wall in funding and apparently has come to an end.

A Cultural Exchange - $69,843.

Dancing Wheels - $68,374.

Spaces - $65,008.

Near West Theater - $60,710.

Singing Angels - $57,009.

Verb Ballet, Inc. - $48,511.

 DANCECleveland - $45,009.

Rainey Institute - $43,289.

Groundworks Dancetheater - $42,345.

Roots of American Music - $40,178.

Valley Art Center - $35,634.

Contemporary Youth Orchestra - $32,914.

Art House - $32,093.

Chagrin Valley Little Theater - $29,332.

Heights Arts - $26,584.

North Coast Men’s Choir - $26,495.

Orange Arts Center - $22,525.

BayArts - $23,407.

Broadway School of Music & the Arts - $21,708.

Progressive Arts Alliance - $21,179.

Ukrainian Museum Archives - $20,486.

Opera Circle - $20,456.

Shaker Historical Society & Museum - $19,889.

Artists Archives of Western Reserve - $19,533.

International Women’s Art & Space Museum - $18,466.

Heights Youth Theater - $18,808.

Passport Project - $18,188.

Lakewood Historical Society - $17,738.

Sculpture Center - $16,595.

Verlezza Dance - $12,628.

Brecksville Theater on Square - $11,249.

Cleveland Women’s Orchestra - $8,637.

Joyful Noise - $5,972.

( categories: )

roll me another one

call me on my landline - i'm smoking

Yeah baby, when some officious holier than thou, arts patron with questionable moral fiber gives me the stare of scorn for smoking outside the theater, I just smile and say, "You're welcome." And I don't give to arts orgs in NEO anymore - not directly that is. I sleep better knowing that someone from outside the community is deciding who will get my gifts. It is astonishing to me how many young people voted against the ban on smoking, but didn't know that their habit was supporting sports and arts.

This thing has been a long time coming.

we have too many cultural, sports and arts organizations

Thanks for organizing this and showing us the money. Just the other day I was figuring out the sales tax on a purchase I made, and so had to ring up that extra 0.25% for Kennedy and the supposed MedMart... I hate that more than the cig tax for the arts. But as I look at the list you provide I really don't support using such regressive tax money for any of these organizations, which should fund themselves or die. I would support giving these organizations the money if they in turn provided poor people and equal value of free services in return, in recognition that the poor are paying the organizations without any direct benefit. So the Orchesrta can have their $2 million but that should all go toward free tickets for people who can't afford the toll. Same for the Museum... even scholarships at CIM and CIA... that is "supply side economics", Republicans. Now that would be progressive. So DO IT... and don't cook the books and use the funds to hire your relatives as poverty coordinators... $2 million equals 100,000 X $20 tickets so let's share Severance Hall and Blossom with the diversity of our community.

Disrupt IT

living beyond our means at CIA

This just in - we can't really afford the new CIA

Now that sucks! Living beyond our means indeed. How much can Cleveland truly afford? and furthermore - what is important to sustain? I'd think CIA is a keeper.

Drawing board

  This is a perfect opportunity for CIA to scrap the crap and really design a green building, Susan. 

Yes, the Cleveland Institute of Art is a keeper, but who said that it was being held hostage?  By bad design?  This is welcome news to me.