SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An Illinois House committee earlier this week passed a $1 a pack cigarette tax increase that some analysts projected would have raised $375 million annually. However, during a late night vote on Tuesday, the House twice rejected the increase, the Chicago Sun-Times and St. Louis Today report.
The House Revenue Committee passed the measure 7-5. However, while closing out the state's contentious lame-duck effort on Tuesday night, Illinois Democrats voted to approve a 66-percent jump in the state income tax while failing to deliver the cigarette tax increase.
The Illinois Association of Convenience Stores (IACS) had opposed the tax increase, saying it would have driven Illinois smokers into neighboring states to purchase cigarettes. "Jobs will be lost," predicted Bill Fleischli, IACS vice-president.
In response to the committee action and in advance of Tuesday night's vote, IACS then sent a formal letter to Illinois congressmen:
"There is no doubt that Illinois loses commerce, jobs, retail businesses, and millions of dollars in tax revenue because of our tax structure. Please do not make it worse. Please vote no on Senate Bill 44, and not add an additional $10.00 to the cost of a carton of cigarettes in Illinois."
The letter resonated with a sufficient number of legislators to defeat the proposal.