HARRISBURG, July 3, 2014 — Students, families and teachers in the School District of Philadelphia moved one step closer to being able to close a significant portion of the system’s $93 million budget deficit following the approval last night of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams’ proposal for a $2-per-pack cigarette tax.
“I am delighted that the next hurdle in this process has been cleared by the House,” Williams, the Senate Democratic Whip, said. “But we have more work to do to make sure Philadelphia school children are no longer pawns in these political games.”
Sen. Williams proposed the $2-per-pack cigarette tax June 7, 2013, under Senate Bill 944. Earlier this week, he converted his idea to an amendment and attached it to House Bill 1177, which the Senate overwhelmingly approved, 38-12.
“This has been a gut-wrenching up-and-down week for families who have children in Philly schools but we still have road to travel before students and parents can feel secure about this important new revenue stream.
“I believe that the kids will win,” Williams said.
The senator’s proposal for a $2 per pack cigarette tax would generate as much as $45 million this year for the school district and $83 million during its first full year.
To get his proposal through the House, Sen. Williams thanked Republican House Leader Mike Turzai, and Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph; Democratic state Reps. Bill Keller, Cherelle Parker, and Jordan Harris; Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa; and Democratic state Sens. Shirley Kitchen, and Vince Hughes, the Democratic Senate Appropriations Committee chairman.
Williams also praised the efforts of Philly Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council President Darrell Clarke, and Councilman Bill Greenlee.
HB 1177 must now return to the Senate for consideration and concurrence in the latest House amendments.