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Philly lawmaker cautions that cigarette tax for schools not a done deal

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Last week, the Republican-held, tax-averse Pennsylvania House of Representatives gave its blessing to Philadelphia’s $2-per-pack cigarette tax.

The tax is expected to generate $40 million to $45 million for the struggling schools this year and double that for years to come.

But the measure still must win approval from the state Senate before moving to the governor’s desk.

And State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Philadelphia, offered some advice during a City Hall news conference Monday: Don’t spike the football on the 5-yard line.

"While there’s been a lot of back slapping and clapping and ‘We finally got it done,’ we have not gotten it done," William said. "And we want to continue the momentum, but you can only continue the momentum if people understand there’s still a critical need."

The cigarette tax passed the House along with a number of other amendments. So even though the Senate previously passed the cigarette tax language, Williams warned that the additions could divide some senators and further stall the legislation.

Senate Democrats estimate that the school district loses $1.6 million every week the legislation is postponed.

Gov. Corbett has said that he’d sign the bill if passed by the General Assembly.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks