Cigarette Tax Hike For Public Works Programs?

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is seeking a $1 per pack increase in the state cigarette tax to generate funds for a major public works program.

Cullerton plans Tuesday to call for a $1 per pack increase in the state cigarette tax to make up for lost revenues from video poker and higher liquor taxes that were stricken by a state appeals court.

He will lay out his plan during a speech before the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, and aides predicted a package could emerge from the Senate by week’s end.

“The construction program is too important to risk delays,” Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said late Monday.

The state’s 98-cent-a-pack cigarette tax has been in place since 2002, and Illinois rests in the middle of the pack nationally among states with cigarette taxes. New York has the highest state cigarette tax in the country at $4.35 a pack.

A cigarette tax increase in Illinois is no sure legislative bet, however. Attempts to raise the cigarette tax by $1.01 a pack in January stalled in the House by a 51-66 vote. Sixty votes were needed for passage.

In January, the Illinois Appellate Court tossed out a law authorizing the state’s $31 billion capital construction program.

The program was to fund several public works projects by legalizing video poker, allowing for the privatization of the Illinois State Lottery, and raising taxes on liquor, soft drinks, candy and various hygiene products.

But following a lawsuit by the Wirtz family, which is in the liquor distribution business and also owns the Chicago Blackhawks, the Appellate Court declared the program violated a restriction on how many subjects one piece of legislation covered and thus was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile in a separate initiative, cigar and pipe smokers, and those who use smokeless tobacco, could find themselves paying more for that habit.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports

Under the proposed legislation, cities would have the same taxing abilities over all tobacco products that they currently enjoy over just cigarettes.

The legislation was proposed by state Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood.)

“This would give municipalities the power to tax other tobacco products using any other measurement they want. It could be taxed by weight, unit, gross receipts, et cetera,” Yarbrough said. “A municipality may charge a tax based on the number of units of cigarettes sold. Additionally, they may tax on other tobacco products, but current law does not indicate how that municipality may measure the tax.”

A City of Chicago representative told the House committee the proposed law could bring in up to $2.5 million more to the city.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

  • The Truth

    TAX, TAX and TAX some more!!!! Whatever they can do to keep F-ing the citizens!!! Good to know that Wirtz and his law team are smarter then the morons running this lousy state!! Whatever revenue this brings in will be wasted on frivolous spending, waste & corruption!!! When will this end??

  • BP

    Why target the smokers? The only thing a $1 a pack is going to do is deter smokers from smoking. A health benefit, yes. A revenue generator, maybe in the beginning but it will not be nearly enough to fund a massive public works bill and those revenues generated will progressively decrease as current smokers quit because of cost.

    • The Truth

      Smokers are going to smoke, period. All this will do is cost the state revenue by pushing even more people to neighboring states to buy tobacco. I think a more novel idea to generate revenue would be find all the voters that voted democratic and tax the living $ h i t out of them!!! Call it the “tax on stupidity”. Sure to raise millions in Crook County!!

  • Special Forcesl

    I sure would like to meet this crooked rotten piece of corned beef Cullerton.

  • Cigarette Tax Hike For Public Works Programs? « CBS Chicago | Tax Identification Number

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  • Tracy

    I love how our government wants to up the taxes on cigarettes to improve the streets at smokers expenese. But yet they want to ban smoking. This is more like a double stanard, which I mysel and I am sure other smokers feel the same way. What would you do if everyone just stopped smoking what tax money would be use then?

  • Dennis

    Why doesn’t Springfied just put a 5c tax on every roll of toilet paper sold in the state & have it over with. That way we can remember them everyday. At this point they have not done a thing to help the taxpayers or employers of this state. These politions forget that they work for us.
    I don’t smoke, but this is going to go on & on.

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