Miss. budget negotiators weigh additional tax hike

State lawmakers are considering raising taxes an additional 22 cents on cheaper cigarettes as negotiations continue on a spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

House and Senate leaders met today to discuss the plan. It could generate millions of additional dollars to offset revenues that have been falling since late last year.

A 50-cent tax hike went into effect on all cigarettes last month. The additional taxes would be put on smaller cigarette manufacturers that are not participating in the state’s 1997 lawsuit settlement with larger companies.

Budget negotiators agreed to give the state auditor the authority to auction contraband cigarettes that were seized at an undisclosed location in April. The auction could result in up to an additional $10 million for the budget, lawmakers said.