Slowly but surely the debate about whether to increase the cigarette tax has evolved.
The fight no longer is about whether to raise the cigarette tax, but about what to do with the revenue generated by the increase.
Lt. Gov. Phil Byrant wants to use the revenue – at least part of it – to offset a reduction in the state income tax.
Gov. Haley Barbour wants to use the revenue in the context of overall tax relief, and my guess is that he would go along with a reduction in the income tax.
The House leadership through the years has proposed a hike in the cigarette tax to fund a number of items. The consensus of the House leadership currently is that a cigarette tax hike would go toward Medicaid – specifically to fund a $90 million shortfall in the agency.