Next week, the Iowa Senate will debate a bill that would raise the state tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Senate Republican leaders say they’ll only allow debate on a 36-cent-per-pack increase. Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Dows, says he’s willing to let the state tax on tobacco products double “but that’s enough.” Doubling the state cigarette tax from 36 cents to 72 cents per pack would raise an estimated 70 million dollars in taxes. Democrats in the Senate and Democratic Governor Vilsack had proposed an 80-cent increase in the tax on a pack of cigs. “It comes down to a basic philosophical difference. How much government do we want to increase?” Iverson says. Iverson accuses Democrats of always seeking to collect more in taxes from Iowans. Iverson, as a Co-Leader of the equally-divided Senate, has the power to allow debate on the tax issue, and he will use his veto power if someone tries to raise the tax more than 36 cents. “Doubling the tax, I would allow to happen,” he says. “Anything over that will not happen.” A handful of Republican Senators say they will vote for a cigarette tax increase — for health reasons. Iverson will vote no. The cigarette tax increase is far from becoming law, however. Republicans control the debate agenda in the House, and House G-O-P leaders have repeatedly said there is no need to raise the cigarette tax.
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