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S.C. Gov. vetoes cigarette tax increase


COLUMBIA, S.C. The plan to raise the cigarette tax in South Carolina was voted down in the state’s House by a vote of 57-54, according to published reports. This was about 20 votes less than what the House needed to override a veto by Gov. Mark Sanford, who vetoed the bill before the vote.

The move was to raise the tax from 7 cents per pack to 57 cents. About $159 million from this increase was to be used between Medicaid expansions and helping lower-income workers buy health insurance.

Supporters said it could have provided as many as 200,000 more South Carolinians with health care coverage, but opponents said it would have committed the state to funding programs with a declining revenue source, since the money generated was expected to decrease as more people quit smoking.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said he would sponsor legislation next year to increase the cigarette tax, and spend the summer and fall studying the best way to use it toward health care by leveraging the private sector.

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