The bill, SB44, would increase the per-pack tax by one dollar in the next two years. It passed the Senate with broad support on Thursday. A House panel also approved the measure, but House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) said she needs more votes before bringing the issue to the floor.
Democrats say the tax revenue would pay for educational expenses, like transportation reimbursement and special education. Republicans aren't adverse to that, but fear the money would ultimately be used to fill other budget gaps.
The state tax would go on top of the city's $.68 tax and Cook County's $2-per-pack tax. It would bring the state around $300 million in new revenue, according to the American Lung Association of Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn supports the measure and said he would sign it.