Members of both political parties back raising the state tax on cigarettes, but party leaders are wary because neither party wants to be accused in a future campaign of being tax-hungry.
Governor-elect Chet Culver advocated a buck-a-pack increase in the state cigarette tax during this past year’s campaign. That could yield as much as 150-million more dollars for the state treasury. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants has joked that Iowans will need the minimum wage increase Democrats like Culver have promised just to pay for pricier cigarettes.
That statement ruffled the feathers Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg who supports a cigarette tax increase because he says it would keep some kids from taking up the habit. “It’s a health care issue, whether it’s teenagers or seniors,” Kibbie says. “…Let’s not try to make an issue out of it.”
But other Democratic leaders in the legislature are unwilling to say the legislature will act on a cigarette tax hike, in part because state tax revenues are already growing under the current tax structure.