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Mayor Nutter Renews His Calls To State Lawmakers To Let The City Tax Cigarettes For Cash-Strapped Schools

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(Mayor Michael Nutter delivers his 2014-2015 budget address to City Council.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Mayor Michael Nutter delivers his 2014-2015 budget address to City Council. Image from City of Phila. TV)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)– The 2014 edition of the Philadelphia school district budget crisis will soon get underway and Mayor Nutter is renewing his call for Harrisburg to let the city tax cigarettes.

You probably recall that last year Mayor Nutter proposed a two-dollar per pack tax on cigarettes, with the proceeds going directly to the cash-starve school district.

City Council agreed, but state lawmakers who must authorize the tax did not.

Now Nutter is again calling on Harrisburg to green light a city cigarette tax although he’s well aware that the state is hearing from lobbyists for tobacco-related interests:

“You know, it’s the United States of America. People have a right to lobby. I just think that folks here should be lobbying on behalf of children.”

He’s hoping the local Chamber of Commerce does precisely that sort of lobbying in the state capital:

“We’re enjoying good support from the Chamber of Commerce in this particular regard, to get this authorizing legislation enacted in Harrisburg. So, we have work to do. I understand there’s opposition. But the flip side of opposition is support.”

Nutter says the cigarette tax could generate more than $83 million a year for the schools.

The spokesman for House GOP Majority leader Mike Turzai says the issue of authorizing a Philadelphia-specific cigarette tax remains a non-starter in the House.

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