The House is expected to vote today on a budget bill that would increase cigarette taxes and impose a levy on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.
The House was set to act on its tax bill in late May, but Democratic leaders postponed the vote after caucus members’ support wavered.
The measure has since been amended and it now includes a cigar tax, and reduces its cigarette tax increase from 30 to 10 cents a pack.
Johnna Pro, the spokeswoman for House Appropriations Chair Dwight Evans, says Democrats feel like that’s a better approach.
"I think once folks really had a chance to sit down and look at the numbers, it more sense to do a lower cigarette tax increase, and then bring cigars back into the mix. We are the only state that doesn’t tax cigars."
The bill also includes an eight percent tax on natural gas drilling, which is nearly twice as much as the rate Governor Rendell initially proposed, and caps the discount given to vendors who turn in tax revenue at 500-thousand dollars.
Pro says the package generates about 280 million additional dollars for the commonwealth’s general fund.,
If the measure passes it heads over to the Senate, where Republican leaders say they’re opposed to any tax increases.
Meantime, the Senate Appropriations Committee has acted on the 29-billion dollar spending bill the House passed earlier this year. The panel gave the bill a ‘negative recommendation,” which moves it to the full Senate floor.