Governor Sanford is expected to veto the 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase that House and Senate leaders ratified Thursday. Governor Mark Sanford’s calender indicates that he plans a press conference Tuesday concerning the increase.
Oconee County Republican Thomas Alexander is a strong supporter of a cigarette tax increase. He says increasing the tax will prevent more than 20-thousand South Carolina teenagers from smoking.
Alexander says he doesn’t buy the argument put forth by lawmakers from border counties who have said that increasing the tax would hurt many convenience stores by running off their out-of-state business, and in turn hurt tax revenues. Alexander says Georgia has a 37-cent cigarette tax and North Carolina has a 45-cent tax. He says as those cigarette taxes rose to their current level, South Carolina merchants saw no increase in their business.
(Alexander on tax veto MP3 1:18)
Alexander on veto
The tax is now seven cents per pack, the lowest in the U.S.
Proponents say the 50-cent increase would generate $136 million for the new Medicaid trust fund, $45 million more than the 30-cent increase that the House originally agreed to this year.
Orangeburg Representative Gilda Cobb Hunter said that extra funding will save 2200 jobs around the state, including staff in doctor’s offices affected by the loss of $81 million in Medicaid funding.