ALBANY – The state Assembly is looking to cash in on cigarettes – not marijuana – to help balance the budget.
A $1-per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax is likely to be included in the budget resolution Assembly Democrats plan to unveil Wednesday, lawmakers said.
The hike would bring the state’s tax on cigarettes to a national high $3.75 per pack and generate more than $200 million in revenue. The increase was first proposed Gov. Paterson in January.
A tax on sugary sodas that was also pitched by Paterson has been rejected by lawmakers.
The Assembly’s budget resolution will also restore about $600 million of the $1.1 billion in school aid cuts that Paterson proposed, lawmakers said.
It also will incorporate Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch’s plan to borrow as much as $2 billion a year over the next three years.
“We’re a conference committed to education even in this difficult year,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who stressed that the budget resolution was still being discussed.
Silver said the Assembly’s resolution would not count on revenue from the legalization of medical marijuana, which the Senate included in its budget resolution on Monday.
While the Assembly has supported legalizing medical marijuana, Silver said he didn’t “look at it as revenue-raiser.”
Gov. Paterson criticized the Senate’s plan yesterday for using “phony numbers” and warned lawmakers that if they missed the state’s April 1 budget deadline he will make huge cuts in short-term budget extensions that are passed to keep the government operating.
“They should expect a bare bones extension,” Paterson said during a Syracuse radio interview.