Cigarette Tax Hike Proposed

Lawmaker wants a $1 cigarette tax hike to pay for construction program

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 16: A woman smokes in a Times Square pedestrian island on September 16, 2010 in New York City. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on smoking in city parks, beaches, and parts of Times Square. Citing the danger of second hand smoke, the mayor sees the proposal as an extension of a popular public smoking ban in 2002 in workplaces and a ban in 2003 in restaurants and bars. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Taking a smoking break could get more expensive. 

    Senate President John Cullerton on Tuesday proposed raising the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack to compensate for a loss of funding for the state's $31 billion construction program.

    The Illinois Appellate Court ruled paying for the project with video poker and increased liquor taxes was unconstitutional.

    The case is pending a decision from the Illinois Supreme Court

    Illinois currently taxes 98 cents for a pack of cigarettes. The House snuffed out an attempt in January to raise the tax by a $1.01 a pack.

    Cullerton aides expect the legislation to surface in the next few days.

    "The construction program is too important to risk delays," Cullerton spokesman John Patterson told the Chicago Sun-Times.