House Targets Tobacco Money

Cigarette Tax
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The Mississippi House Wednesday passed a bill to spend the state's annual tobacco settlement payment.

Lawmakers last year diverted the payment as a temporary fix for the Medicaid crisis. House Public Health Committee Chairman Bobby Moody of Louisville says the $104 million payment under the bill would go into the Health Care Expendable Fund, which uses only the earnings from the investment of the trust fund principal for health care.

Moody says the bill -- like last year -- requires the Legislature to pay the funds back if the economy improves.

The House rejected a proposal by Representative Jim Ellington of Jackson, that the payback of the trust fund payments begin in 2006 and spread the repayment over 15 years.

The bill now goes to the Senate.