North Carolina (NC) lawmakers wonder why over 30% of high school students don't graduate??

July 13, 2008 - Governor Easley, in his last year in office, released his recommended state budget adjustments for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which would have increased tax on cigarettes and alcohol. The increase in the cigarette tax from 35 cents per pack (7th lowest in U.S.) to 55 cents (12th lowest in U.S.) would have started on September 1, 2008 so that about $100 million could be generated to help pay for a proposed average 7-percent increase for teachers and to boost the state's struggling effort to reform its mental health care system. It turned out to be a "win-win" situation for the state the last time NC raised taxes on cigarettes (in mid-2006) cigarette sales fell but revenues from the additional tax increased. North Carolina educators still make less than the national average. State tobacco control people chimed in that the increase in the cigarette tax proposed by Easley should be much higher. But legislative leaders did not have much of an appetite to raise taxes or fees in an election year. Some argue the increase in the cigarette tax would be unfair to the poor in the state but this is the exact group the increase in taxes is targeting. It's a know fact that with the increase in cost on cigarettes will result in kids deciding not to use tobacco and smokers more likely to quit. In this difficult economic times there's even a greater chance the smoker would want to quit and put the money saved in doing a better job providing for his(her) family. The final budget called for about a 3% increase for teachers. During negotiations Easley accused legislative of seeking to "shaft" public school teachers in favor of a tax cut benefiting the wealthy. Taxes, raises may stymie budget by By Michael Biesecker, The News & Observer, 6/30/2008) In New York where the tax on cigarettes was just raised calls to the quit line along with requests for nicotine patches have surged. ( Cigarette Tax Increase Brings a Surge in 311 Calls by Sewell Chan, NY Times, 7/14/2008) References: Easley's $21.5 Billion Budget Would Increase Cigarette, Alcohol Taxes by the Associated Press, May 12, 2008 and NC General Assembly Gives Initial Budget OK, MSNBC, 7/7/2008. Click on image to enlarge.. (