ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - If you haven't kicked the habit yet, this may be a good time. That's because more of your hard-earned dollars will soon go up in smoke. The governor wants another $1.60 per pack to help balance the state budget.
Gary Moore spends about $8 on a pack of cigarettes every day. He will pay an additional $1.60 if state lawmakers pass the next emergency spending bill.
The latest bill includes a a new cigarette tax, an increase on chewing tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products. The state also plans to start collecting taxes on Indian cigarettes sold to Non-Indians.
Moore commented, "I may just quit smoking. I can't afford it at that kind of prices so I may just quit. I'm thinking about quitting."
But some lawmakers tell News 4 that taxpayers shouldn't have to change their habits because of the state.
Assemblyman Jack Quinn said, "I think any tax is wrong. Any of them, whether it'd be soda, cigarettes."
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt added, "We have to stop raising taxes in order to close these budget deficits that we're confronted."
The state's Budget Director Mark Umphird says the tax hikes will bring in $440 million.
"New York State is in trouble and it has to everything it can to raise capital from some place," explained Umphird.
Assemblyman Jane Corwin says this kind of negotiating would have driven a private business out of business. Quinn calls this one of the worst budget's in the state's history.
"We've done 75 percent of the budget now. And when you're spending 75 percent of the money, and you've only cut $2 billion out of $9.2 billion, that last 25 percent is going to have to in some way make up for the other $7.2 billion, explained Quinn.
The Seneca Nation of Indians says the latest proposal is an act of economic violence.
In a statement, they said, "We stand by our sovereign federal treaty guarantees of tax immunity, peaceful enjoyment of our territories. This is an act of economic violence against the native people of what is now New York State. The state is built on the graves and land sacrifices of our people."
If the emergency spending bill is passed, New York State would have the highest tax on cigarettes in the country. Lawmakers say bills still need to be passed on education and revenue, and they may have no choice but to tax and borrow to close the deficit.
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