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Connecticut Smoking Fees Rising

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Gov. John G. Rowland said he plans to propose a 61-cent per pack increase in the state's cigarette tax.

The proposal, expected to be part of the budget Rowland presents to the General Assembly Feb. 6, marks the first time the Republican governor has supported a significant tax increase since taking office seven years ago, The Connecticut Post reported.

Rowland said he was reversing course on taxes because the state faces a projected $1 billion deficit over the next two years. The tax hike, which would take effect April 1, is expected to bring in at least $130 million a year, including $40 million in the current year, the report said.

Rowland's plan is 11 cents higher than a proposal by Democrats, who wanted to double the state's current 50-cent per pack cigarette tax. If approved, it would set the state tax for cigarettes at $1.11 per pack as of April 1.

The tax would be higher than those imposed by two neighboring states -- Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- but lower than the fee in New York State. New York's cigarette tax is now $1.11, but is scheduled to rise to $1.50 per pack - the highest in the nation -- on April 1. The cigarette tax is 76 cents per pack in Massachusetts and $1 per pack in Rhode Island.
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