Legislator wants to raise cigarette tax

11/26/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Florida has one of the lowest tax rates on cigarettes in the country. In the last legislative session, there was a push to increase the state sales tax on a pack of cigarette as a way to raise funds, but it went nowhere.

The state’s budget was in bad shape then; it’s in worse shape now, and the idea of raising taxes there is getting some bi-partisan support as Florida’s economic conditions worsen.

Gov. Charlie Crist could use his bully pulpit to lead on the issue, but the governor appears uncertain on the issue. On Monday he indicated he was open to the idea, but yesterday said he was not "warm and fuzzy" about it.

One Democratic member of the State House who is enthusiastic about such a tax is St. Petersburg Rep. Rick Kriseman, who is sponsoring a $1 tax on cigarettes.

State economists now say Florida faces a $2.2 billion budget deficit.

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