Gov. Pat Quinn should sign new regulation that increases the state’s cigarettes taxes, in spite of the dissatisfaction from border communities that it will hurt tobacco business. The tax is a sensible part of a pack to fix the state’s financially disturbing Medicaid special programs. While we usually were against raising tobacco taxes, this is a tax that helps solve a lot of state problems. Quinn has explained that he plans to sign the new law, which would raise the total tax on a package of cigs to $1.98 beginning June 24. Other smoking products also will see a big increase in taxes starting with July 1.
The tax is supposed to bring about $800 million to compensate increases in the Medicaid program. Without the tax, the state would have been forced to cut the Medicaid state program more sharply or permit payments to take a big part of the state budget and demand for further cuts in education, people safety or other inhabitants services.
The tobacco tax increase should also help decrease smoking-related Medicaid costs, which came to $1.5 billion last year.
Most of the complaining about the tax has come from convenience shop owners and lawmakers who represent districts on the state’s borders. Among surrounding states, Wisconsin’s cigarette tax is $2.52 per package, Iowa is $1.36 per package, Indiana is 99 cents, Kentucky is 60 cents and Missouri, which has the lowest state cigarettes tax, is 17 cents per package. Fourteen states have tobacco taxes higher than $2 per packaging, with New York leading at $4.35 per package.