Gov. Jim Doyle and members of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee want the state tax on a pack of cigarettes to go up by 75-cents, from $1.77 to $2.52.
But Democrats who control the state Assembly quietly approved an amendment that would kill a proposed 21-cent per cigar increase in the state tax on cigars.
Page 33 of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of dozens of changes to the state budget says the 52 Assembly Democrats included in their package of budget changes a provision that would keep the tax on cigars at 50-cents each. It was the first time the tax break was made public.
The Fiscal Bureau said keeping the 50-cent tax per cigar would save cigar smokers about $920,000 over the next two years. The 75-cent increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes will cost those smokers about $310.4 million more over the same period, however.
A spokeswoman for Assembly Democrats said the move to keep the tax on cigars at 50-cents each was sponsored by Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).
The Fiscal Bureau summary was made public Friday morning, to help prepare Assembly members for the budget debate that was supposed to start at 10 a.m. By 4 p.m., however, Democratic leaders said they were done meeting with hoped to begin debate soon.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel