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  • Cigarette Smokers Now Funding Philadelphia’s Public Schools

    Philadelphia will now begin funding its public school system with a new cigarette tax signed into law Wednesday by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

    “It was about the students of Philadelphia,” Corbett said after signing the bill, reported The Patriot News. “It provides a steady funding source for the School District of Philadelphia and will support a safe and secure learning environment for the students there,”a he added.

    The $2 tax will increase the total tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes in the city to $3.60, and to $4.50 for a pack of 25, beginning Oct. 1. It would bring the average cost of a pack up from just under $6 — a relatively low rate — to nearly $8.

    Critics of the bill worry it will harm the local economy by driving consumers to Delaware or New Jersey for cheaper rates. One senator who opposed the bill said in a letter to his colleagues, that he objects to the tax, because it supports only one district, while broader fiscal reform could help the entire state, reported The Patriot News

    The tax is anticipated to generate between $70 and $90 million for the school district, which is expected to run on a nearly $80 million deficit this year. Philly Superintendent William Hite said this is “a happy day for all of the students, families and staff members” in the district.

    Gov. Corbett’s opponent in the upcoming midterm elections, Democrat Tom Wolf, has criticized Corbett for mismanaging the economy and cutting funding to public schools. Recent polls show Wolf up by as many as 20 points.

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