Governor unveils his budget, calls for cigarette tax increase

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Gov. Haley Barbour has proposed a two-tiered cigarette tax increase in a budget he describes as prudent, conservative and balanced. Barbour's plan, outlined Tuesday by the governor, reduces funding by 2 percent to some state agencies but would fully fund the basic formula for public schools. Barbour has been roundly criticized for opposing a cigarette tax increase that many lawmakers backed as a source for funding for Medicaid.

Barbour proposes a 24-cents-per-pack increase on the more popular brands of cigarettes and a 43-cents-per-pack increase on cheaper brands. The current tax is 18 cents a pack - among the lowest in the nation. Barbour also suggests using $84 million from the rainy day fund to shore up the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

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