The Clarion-Ledger, 5/30/8

Lawmakers’ second attempt to hike cigarette and liquor taxes to pay for Medicaid fell short today in the Mississippi House, almost guaranteeing a funding fix for Medicaid is doomed in this special session.

But the House also did not approve a hospital tax plan backed by the Senate and GOP Gov. Haley Barbour.

House lawmakers agreed to use $90 million from the state’s “rainy-day” fund to prevent any service cuts in Medicaid, the health insurance program that serves hundreds of thousands of low-income Mississippians. The plan would require approval from the Senate and Barbour, who has touted that the “rainy day” fund is full at $378 million.

A House bill that would have increased the 18-cent per pack cigarette tax by 50 cents failed by three votes this morning. It would have also included a liquor tax increase, and would have left the option open for a hospital tax.