Mississippi - still chance for tobacco tax increase for July 1, 2009 budget..

April 17, 2009 - The 122 House members and 52 senators will return to Jackson in May or June to finish writing a budget for the year that begins July 1, 2009. Legislators were in session almost three months before leaving the Capitol (Jackson) on April 1. They’re on break for several weeks while officials figure out how the federal stimulus package might affect Mississippi government.

Governor Barbour said his budget is based on the assumption that legislators will approve a $90 million annual hospital tax to help pay for Medicaid and that they'll set a cigarette excise tax of 60 cents a pack.

Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy of Rienzi said the Republican governor's cigarette tax proposal is too low (at present 18-cent-a-pack cigarette tax third-lowest in the nation) and the hospital tax for Medicaid is too high. Lawmakers must agree on the amount of a cigarette tax increase or decide to ditch the proposal so the budget can be finished.

The federal cigarette tax rose on April 1 from 39 cents a pack to $1.01. The dramatic jump made some Mississippi lawmakers more hesitant to increase the state tax.

State cigarette excise tax rates - April 2009.

If all of the nation's Medicaid smokers were to quit immediately, the federal-state health care program would save nearly $10 billion a year nationally. Smokers account for nearly 6 percent of national Medicaid spending, according to a study conducted by RTI International and funded by the American Legacy Foundation.

Related news briefs: Besides federal tax increase - several states want to do the same..; Mississippi - with federal stimulus package passed cigarette tax loses momentum..; Mississippi - tobacco tax increase may pass this time..; U.S. States Considering Tobacco Tax Increase...

Reference: Mississippi cigarette tax negotiations restart next week by EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press, 4/16/2009; McBride touts cigarette tax Lawmaker foresees reduced Medicaid costs by Phil West, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4/7/2009.