Thursday, January 14, 2016

Governor's budget suggests hikes on tobacco, phone taxes

(AP) — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed addressing budget woes by raising taxes on tobacco products, taxing phone usage and using state reserves.

In a briefing Wednesday, the Democratic governor's budget team outlined plans to address a $381 million 2016 budget gap and $466 million 2017 fiscal year gap.

A 45-cent increase would raise the cigarette tax to $1 a pack. Other products, like snuff and e-cigarettes, would also see a tax hike. The change could produce $78 million annually and $18.9 million for the 2016 budget.

Tomblin wants to apply the 6 percent state sales tax to landline and cellphones, including phone calls and cellphone data usage. It could yield $60 million for the 2017 budget and $10 million this budget.

Tomblin would use $52 million in reserves.