South Carolina - cigarette tax, State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex speaks up..

March 18, 2010 - This state has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation of 7 cents a pack — unchanged since 1977.

Burning the midnight oil Wednesday night, March 17th the South Carolina House members continued their battle over the budget before wrapping up Thursday morning. House members voted 106-12 to keep a 30-cent cigarette tax increase in the budget.

Thursday morning, March 18th at the State House State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex called the 30-cent increase woefully inadequate. Rex called on the State Senate to do what the House was unable or unwilling to do and that is to raise the state cigarette tax to the national average of $1.34 a pack. Rex says the $240 million in revenue generated by the tax increase would be a win-win for education and health care.

Rex says the health care jobs that would be created would be in the range of 20,000. Rex repeated his earlier proposal that when the economy recovers and education funding reaches at least 2008 levels, he would like to see the entire revenue stream from the cigarette tax go toward health care.

Rex says he understands that their is concern from legislators and citizens who live in border counties that a substantial hike in the cigarette tax would hurt commerce, but he says evidence from other states prove otherwise.

Rex says a higher cigarette tax would not only create a much needed source of revenue for the state, but it would also lead to the creation of a healthier South Carolina.

Rex says he understands that ultimately the source of revenue from the higher tax will slowly diminish as more and more people choose not to light up.

Rex to SC Senate: “Raise cigarette tax to national average”
by Tom Hayes in Economy, Education, Health & Medicine, Politics & Government, South Carolina Radio Network, 3/18/2010.

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