House Kills Tobacco Tax

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The Mississippi House has killed a bill to put an extra $1.00 tax on every pack of cigarettes to help pay for the state's ailing Medicaid program. It had majority support 59 to 54, but needed a three-fifths majority, or 72 votes, for approval.

House leaders have said other new taxes could be proposed, but it wasn't immediately clear which ones.

"A lot of things were wrong with the bill, like raising taxes this early in the session, without knowing about the full budget," said Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian, who voted against the bill.

"There is no abiding interest in the Senate to pass a tax of any kind," added Sen. Terry Burton of Newton.

Gov. Haley Barbour has also said he'll veto any tax bills.

House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland says the Medicaid program will face deep cuts later this legislative session.

He says the cigarette tax was an effort help sustain health care for - quote - "the least, the last and the most vulnerable of this state."

Under the bill, cigarette taxes would have gone from the current 18 cents a pack to $1.18. Tax rates on other tobacco products such as snuff and cigars would have risen 10 percent.