House members voted to overrride the governor’s veto on the 50-cents a pack cigarette tax increase. Charleston Representative Chip Limehouse and Charleston Democrat Wendell Gilliard voted in favor of the override. Gilliard says the revenue will help the state’s hurting economy. “Here we are strapped for money in this great state we call South Carolina. We see our teachers are being laid off, we see our law enforcement being laid off. We are looking for revenues by any means necessary. When this first came up in the budget, I presented on the floor an amendment that would really bring us up to par with Rhode Island. As you well know Rhode Island has the highest cigarette tax in this great country,” says Gilliard.
Gilliard says he would be in favor of even a higher increase.
“What I told the Speaker of the House is we should not be peace-mealing it. I think we should raise the tax $1.50 or up to $2 that would have generated anywhere from 300 to 400 million dollars that we could have used those revenues and really took to these services throughout the state of South Carolina,” says Gilliard.
Gilliard says tax increases shouldn’t stop at cigarettes.
“I believe we should increase taxes on soda drinks. I hate to bring people to a reality, but it takes monies to run a government so we could provide services to the state, to our constituents. That’s just the truth of it all. No, we don’t want to tax anybody out of business,” says Gilliard.
The cigarette tax bill is now in the Senate. If passed, the state’s cigarette tax will rise to 57 cents a pack.