Associated Press Published

Tobacco Tax Hike Up For Vote

Cigarette, tobacco

The West Virginia Senate is set to vote on a bigger tobacco tax hike than Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed.

The Republican-led chamber’s vote is slated for Tuesday.

Tomblin’s plan would have raised the cigarette tax by 45 cents to $1, raised a tax on other tobacco products and taxed e-cigarettes. It would have yielded $78 million additional annually and $18.9 million to help balance the 2016 budget.

A Senate committee approved a Democratic amendment to increase the cigarette tax further by $1 to $1.55, and dedicate the money to state employee and retiree health plans. It would bring in about $115 million more annually, not just $78 million.

Senators said the change would aid health plans beyond 2017.

The Republican-led House has been more hesitant to raise taxes.