Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Culver to lawmakers: Increase cigarette tax

Gov. Chet Culver pressed the Iowa Legislature Tuesday for a dollar increase in the state's cigarette tax during his first budget address, taking his own party to task on a measure he said would save lives. The Democrat, elected in November, spent more time on the proposal than any other aspect of the $5.7 billion spending plan he outlined to the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Confronting hesitation by some of his party's legislative leaders about raising the tax a full dollar, Culver challenged lawmakers to get on board with an issue that was a part of his winning campaign and that a clear majority of Iowans support. "I understand that some appear to suggest that we should only increase the cigarette tax by 30 to 60 cents," Culver said. "But in this case, half measures will not even produce half the results." "I strongly believe the number needs to be a dollar," Culver added, sparking cheers from many of the Democrats in the House chamber and a contingent of students looking on from the gallery.

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