West Virginia lawmakers voted down a bill that would raise the tobacco tax by 45 cents. It’s a bill that many Republicans were initially against, but with the urgency to pass a budget, some voted in favor of it.
“Considering the fact that the governor pretty well controls the agenda as to what legislation we are able to take up during the special session, I really felt that a balanced approach that would include a modest increase in our tobacco tax offered the best opportunity to not only win House passage, but also to gain passage in the Senate and then ultimately the governor’s signature,” said Delegate Paul Espinosa, (D) Jefferson-66.
The bill was one of a few options on the table. Others included raising the sales tax by 1 percent and increasing the tax on cell phones and landlines. Neither of those had any traction. So, now that the tobacco tax is off the table, it’s back to the drawing board.
“I voted against this bill because it’s a band-aid on a broken leg,” said Delegate Stephen Skinner. “It really doesn’t solve any of the problems that we face in our current budget. We need to have a comprehensive plan that is bi-partisan and the product of compromise.”
Still, there is hope that a budget will be passed before the threat of a government shutdown on July 1.
Legislators are reconvening Wednesday night and again on Thursday.