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City Will Use New Cigarette Tax, Not Tax Hike On Bar Drinks, For School Funding

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council leaders say they expect to provide more than the $60-million increase requested by the school district, even without a liquor-by-the-drink tax hike.

The school district asked for an additional $60 million from the city (see related story), but Council president Darrell Clarke says the city expects to be doing even more, provide $74 million through a cigarette tax hike and more aggressive collection of real estate taxes.

“We have done our part, exceeding the request,” Clarke said today in City Council chambers, “and we will conclude our budget process this Thursday.”

And that budget process will conclude without action other possible funding sources, including an increase in the liquor-by-the drink tax.

The state legislature must still approve the cigarette tax hike, and Clarke says he supports the enabling legislation allowing the city to raise its liquor tax.

But this doesn’t solve the district’s money problems.  The district is still seeking more state funding and labor concessions, in an effort to fill a $300-million gap (see related stories).

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