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Pa. House passes $2-per-pack Philly cigarette tax on to Senate

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

In a 114-84 vote, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives once again approved the $2-per-pack Philadelphia cigarette tax for city schools on Monday.

The measure could get a vote in the Senate as soon as Wednesday. Gov. Corbett has pledged to sign the bill upon passage.

The Philadelphia School District is counting on the cigarette tax to generate $49 million this fiscal year to avoid more than 1,000 layoffs that District officials warn would turn schools into "empty shells."

In order to generate this revenue, the District says collections must begin by Oct. 1.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, assured school Superintendent William Hite in August that the District could count on cigarette tax revenue by October.

The House first passed the cigarette tax on July 2, but disagreements with the Senate over unrelated items trapped the omnibus measure in a game of legislative ping-pong.

That game may not yet be over.

Senate leaders might want to stick with the bill as they’ve already twice passed it. That iteration includes provisions that allow hotel taxes to be increased in some counties and allow some cities to apply for tax credits for community revitalization improvement zones (CRIZ).

House leaders dislike these provisions, lamenting the fact that expanding CRIZ eligibility could cost the state general fund $70 million.

The Senate leadership’s spokesman said another end run is not likely.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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