Big Tobacco lobbies hard on Philly cigarette tax
HARRISBURG - Philadelphia was one Senate vote away from winning its $2-per-pack cigarette tax in the General Assembly on Tuesday.
But after a late-hour lobbying effort by tobacco manufacturers, the senators jammed in a provision setting a five-year expiration for the tax.
So, despite the prospect of delayed public school openings and hundreds of layoffs, the bill was sent back to the House, which had departed for its summer break and may not return until Aug. 4.
That news sent Mayor Nutter, on hand for the deliberations, into a tailspin. He accused Big Tobacco of "trying to take money away from Philadelphia schoolchildren."
On Wednesday, Sen. Jake Corman (R., Centre), chairman of the appropriations committee, dismissed the notion that tobacco lobbyists played a significant role in adding the temporary language.
"This allows us the opportunity to review an unprecedented tax," said Corman.
He added the tax could lead to a reduction in the $2 billion the state takes in from tobacco revenue each year. "As protector of the general fund, I have great concerns about what this could mean for the state," he said.
See more at: