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Philly schools counting on the end of cigarette-tax ping-pong match

Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY

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

Will the ping-pong game finally come to a conclusion?

That’s the question that Philadelphia education advocates are asking as Pennsylvania’s legislature reconvenes Monday and promises to again consider authorizing a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes sold within city limits to help fund schools.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai assured District leaders in August that they could count on cigarette tax revenue by October.

That promise followed a summer during which the bill bounced between the House and Senate, largely because of disputes about amendments unrelated to taxing Philadelphia cigarettes.

Turzai spokesman Steve Miskin said the House will strip those ancillary provisions out in a rules committee meeting Monday and then take up a clean bill Wednesday.

"Everyone’s goal is to get this legislation to the governor’s desk as quickly as possible," he said.

If it gets there, Gov. Corbett says, he will sign it.

A potential problem is that Senate leaders may want to stick with the bill as they’ve already passed it. That iteration includes provisions that allow hotel taxes to be increased in counties such as York, and allows cities including Scranton and Erie to apply for community revitalization improvement zone (CRIZ) funding.

The House leadership dislikes both provisions. Expanding CRIZ eligibility could cost the state general fund $70 million.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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