South Carolina - next legislative session starts June 16th..

June 7, 2009 - South Carolina is the only state in the nation that has failed to pass a recent cigarette excise tax increase. Currently the state has the shameful distinction of having the nation's lowest state cigarette tax, at 7 cents a pack, where it's been since 1977 (32 years). The national average for states is $1.27 a pack.

For at least the past few years, cigarette tax proposals have made progress in the Legislature, but lawmakers haven't had the political courage to finish the job. The sticking point seems to be what to do with the new revenue generated by the tax increase. Governor Sanford wants to share the new revenue with taxpayers by reducing the state’s income tax rate by 0.5 percent. Some legislators wanted to direct the new revenue to assisting small businesses in providing health insurance coverage for their employees. Other legislators wanted the new revenue to be used to expand Medicaid’s program to provide more children with health care. The inability of the legislators to reach an agreement on how to spend the new revenue apparently doomed passage of the tax increase.

The last time the legislature met was May 21st for the Senate and May 22, 2009 for the House. The 118th South Carolina General Assembly will reconvene on June 16, 2009 at 1pm.

Maybe this time the lawmakers can reach agreement and pass an increased tax on tobacco products.

References: Opinion - Lawmakers blow it again on raising cigarette tax, The Beaufort Gazete, 6/6/2009; South Carolina's Cigarette Tax Increase Decision, Robert T. Barrett, South Carolina State University, Robert E. Pugh, Francis Marion University and Neil Riley, Francis Marion University;

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