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WV House OKs tobacco tax hike to balance budget

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Christian Tyler Randolph  West Virginia House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, talks with Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, (left) and House Clerk Steve Harrison before debate Monday on a state budget bill (SB 1013). The House passed the budget by an 84-15 vote.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Christian Tyler Randolph
West Virginia House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, talks with Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, (left) and House Clerk Steve Harrison before debate Monday on a state budget bill (SB 1013). The House passed the budget by an 84-15 vote.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Breaking a 92-day budget impasse, the West Virginia House of Delegates on Monday passed a $98 million increase in tobacco taxes on a 63-35 vote (HB 1012), a key component to help close a $270 million funding gap in the 2016-17 state budget and avoid a government shutdown on July 1.

“Most of all, a ‘yes’ vote assures our government stays open July 1,” House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, said in urging passage of the bill.

Monday evening, the Senate accepted a House amendment to the bill and passed it on a 29-3 vote, sending the key tax-increase portion of the budget bill to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The votes came on the 16th day of the special session on the budget, and nearly three weeks after the House rejected a previous tobacco tax bill that would have included a 45-cent-a-pack increase on cigarette taxes, 20 cents a pack less than the tax hike approved Monday…

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