Tuesday, May 24, 2016

West Virginia House kills tobacco tax hike, stymieing budget

(AP) — The West Virginia House of Delegates has killed a key tax hike on cigarettes and other tobacco products, stymieing budget negotiations.

The 44-55 vote on Tuesday occurred during the GOP-led Legislature's seventh day of budget session. Each day of session costs $35,000.

The bill would have raised taxes on cigarettes by 45 cents a pack to $1. It would have also increased taxes on other tobacco products.

Many Democrats and some Republicans opposed the legislation.

A similar version previously passed the Senate.

The tax hikes were expected to raise about $76 million annually.

Lawmakers need to cover a $270 million budget gap. Without a budget plan before July 1, the state would go into a government shutdown.

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called lawmakers into session May 16.