The Pennsylvania Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday to allow Philadelphia to levy a hotly-debated cigarette tax to help fund the city's flailing school district.
Local lawmakers and city officials have been working to pass a bill that would add a $2 a pack tag to cigarettes sold in the Commonwealth's largest city.
The tax, first proposed in 2013 by Democratic State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, is expected to provide $45 million in additional funding this year and $83 million by this time next year for the School District of Philadelphia, state officials said.
School district officials are looking for an additional $93 million in funding to close a major budget gap. The district has been plagued by financial woes for several years and has been forced to resort to major cuts to staffing, programs and extracurricular activities.
Closing the gap would only keep funding levels flat at levels deemed draconian by educators and Superintendent Dr. William Hite. The district's leader has asked city and state leaders for another $224 million to improve the district.
After a back-and-forth fight between state lawmakers last week, the Pa. House of Representatives passed the bill 119-80 allowing the tax. The proposed law change is now making its way through state Senate where it is also expected to pass.
The law will then go to the desk of Gov. Tom Corbett. The governor's office has not commented on whether he plans to sign the bill into law.