Oklahoma Lawmakers Debate Tobacco Tax Plan

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Oklahoma Lawmakers Debate Tobacco Tax Plan

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Brad Henry continue to go back and forth in efforts to devise a compromise for a tobacco tax increase, reported the Associated Press.

In what he called his "final" compromise, the Democratic governor called for increasing the cigarette tax by 55 cents per pack. The additional revenue raised would go to improve health care, eliminate the state capital-gains tax on property and cut income taxes for retirees. The bill is expected to go to vote shortly in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Earlier, Henry said it was time for the legislature to vote on his plan "to let Oklahomans know where everyone stands on health care."

"A yes vote will dramatically improve health- are opportunities for generations to come and reduce costs for businesses and consumers alike," Henry said.

He said a "no" vote "will simply preserve the status quo and relegate us to a broken system that costs Oklahomans millions of dollars each year."

Republicans immediately presented a response to Henry's plan. The alternative would increase the cigarette tax by 99 cents per pack. The revenue raised would support some of the governor's health care initiatives and cut more taxes.

Henry was critical of the Republicans' bill, saying it puts a heavy tax burden on poor residents.