CONCORD, N.H.-- Last week, Governor Maggie Hassan presented her proposed budget to the New Hampshire Legislature. Hassan's proposal would rely on a 30-cent increase on cigarette taxes, along with expanded gaming and acceptance of federal health care funds, to freeze college tuition prices, reported The Eagle-Tribune.
"New Hampshire stands at the threshold of a bright new future," Hassan said in her budget address. "But we cannot sit back and wait for the innovation economy to develop. We must lead the way."
Although in July 2011, New Hampshire became the only state to cut cigarette taxes, Hassan's budget seeks to restore that 10-cent cut and raise the tax an additional 20 cents. At $1.98 per pack, the governor said the tax increase would still keep New Hampshire's below neighboring states like Massachusetts, where there's a $2.51 per pack cigarette tax.
"Cigarette taxes nationwide have proven to be one of the most effective ways to prevent youth smoking," she said, "and my budget proposes reversing the cigarette tax cut and increasing the tax by an additional 20 cents, which will still keep our cigarette tax below those of surrounding states."
Many of New Hampshire's senators and representatives, however, feel differently, the report said.
State Senator Chuck Morse (R) expressed doubts that the Republican-controlled Senate would pass the cigarette tax increase. He was unsure about the House.
State Representative Al Baldasaro (R) and State Sen. Jim Rausch (R) also came out against Hassan's cigarette tax increase.
"I'm not a tax person," Rausch said.
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Morse wasn't just opposed to raising cigarette taxes, but to the estimated $1 billion increase Hassan's proposed budget would represent.
"We can't support that," Morse said. "I have my work cut out for me."