This Is The Best Idea I Have Ever Had…
A short time ago, Maurice wrote about how a proposal to dramatically increase the cigarette tax in Illinois might drive Illinois smokers to buy their cancer sticks in Missouri. This article reminded me about how Bill McClellan used to write in the Post about the experiences he would have buying liquor on Sundays in Illinois, before Missouri allowed Sunday sales in the mid-’90s. And then it hit me we need an area between the two states, sort of a duty-free, local-tax demilitarized zone, where residents can go to experience the best of both states at the same time.
Seriously, join me as I go with this idea for a bit. What are the tax/entertainment benefits of Illinois that Missouri residents cross the river to get? Let’s get the obvious out of the way here: Illinois gives you gambling like they have it in Vegas (no $2 entrance fee, no loss limits, no charge for drinks), strip clubs and horse racing. Next, if you are a Missourian lucky enough to have an office or close friends or family in Illinois, you can register your car there and avoid Missouri’s automobile property tax. Ticket scalping is also legal in Illinois, although that, like Sunday liquor sales, appears to be coming to Missouri. Finally, they have later bar closing hours, although asking a question like that at Pop’s suddenly gets very existential. (How can a bar never close???)
What benefits does Missouri offer Illinois residents? For the most part, it’s the lower taxes on gas and cigarettes that Illinois residents get here. We have a tax of 17 cents per pack and per gallon, both, while in the Land of Lincoln it’s 98 cents per pack and 32.5 per gallon. Missouri also has a lower sales tax in general than Illinois, although if you add in the local St. Louis sales taxes, I think the comparison evens out. Neither state has a bottle deposit law like Michigan, but it’s safe to say Missouri will be the last state in America to pass that, so we’ll count that for us.
So I suggest we declare the middle hundred yards or so of the Eads bridge an area within both states, under control of an appointed, multi-state board like Metro, where the lower taxes and more permissive limits of either state apply. The area would need a gas station, a convenience store, a bar, a state revenue office that could serve both states, and a UPS store for your auto registration, and a Post Office Box. The bar would close late and sell packages-to-go, the gas would be cheap the smokes, too and it would all be a short walk to the Casino Queen, if that is how you like to spend your property tax savings. I intend to talk to the governors of both states about this, just as soon as I sober up.
P.S. I was only joking about having to sober up.