Senate Signals Support for Philly Cigarette Tax

The Republican-controlled state Senate is poised to approve legislation allowing Philadelphia to help fund its public schools with a cigarette tax increase.

Senators voted 40-to-10 on Monday night to add the provision to a wider-ranging bill that makes changes to laws that govern municipalities and counties. A final vote was expected Tuesday, while House approval is still required.

Philadelphia officials say that imposing a $2 per-pack city excise tax on cigarette sales will provide $83 million for its schools. Without the money, they say the schools won't be fit to open in the fall.

Gov. Tom Corbett and House Republican leaders had suggested they'd block a cigarette tax increase unless Philadelphia Democrats signed on to legislation to pare back future public employee pension benefits.

Democrats oppose the pension bill.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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