Illinois lawmakers have voted to raise the state tax on cigarettes by a $1. The bill now goes to Governor Patrick Quinn for his signature, who supports the increase.
The state Senate approved the legislation 31-27 Tuesday in a vote that largely followed party lines. Democrats believe the increase will close a hole in the Medicaid budget, but the Republicans in both state house oppose the increase. Medicaid faces a $2.7 billion dollar budget problem. Cuts of roughly $1.6 billion have already been approved. The tax is expected to generate about $350 million and then be matched by the federal government to yield about $700 million.
Governor Pat Quinn released a statement regarding the Senate’s passage of the cigarette tax increase. The bill is the final part of his plan to restructure Medicaid.
“I want to thank the members of the General Assembly who rose to the occasion to save our Medicaid system from the brink of collapse.
“Last week, members of both parties passed legislation to create the necessary savings to save Medicaid. Today the Senate joined the House to prevent children from smoking and allow the state to access vital federal funding to save our Medicaid system.
“Senate President Cullerton and Senate sponsor Jeff Schoenberg, thank you for your leadership to raise the price of cigarettes, which will improve our state’s fiscal health and the health of tens of thousands of smokers who will quit or never start.
“Increasing the price of cigarettes will decrease smoking-related costs to Medicaid, which came to $1.5 billion last year. This legislation will help 60,000 people quit smoking, prevent 60,000 deaths from smoking-related conditions and keep 80,000 kids from taking up smoking in the first place.”
“By working together to pass these bills, strong progress has been made in our mission to restructure Medicaid, so that it serves as a health and wellness system instead of a provider-payment system. As a result, our Medicaid system will continue to serve the millions of Illinois residents who rely on it.”
“I thank the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos and all who took part in our bipartisan working group to develop solutions to save Medicaid.
“I look forward to signing the bills to preserve and restructure our Medicaid system, as we continue to take important steps to restore fiscal stability to Illinois.”
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