Illinois lawmakers consider cigarette tax hike to pay for construction plan

March 16, 2011

Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he has a solution to fund the state's $31 billion construction plan. The project was supposed to begin as soon as the weather would allow, but it's currently tied up in the court system.

Cullerton says the state could raise funds by adding one dollar on to each pack of cigarettes sold in the state.

"This is money that is going to the capital projects, projects that the Republicans have all benefited from throughout the state. They see the unemployment rate drop. They want to continue those projects and this is how we fund it," Cullerton said.

Cullerton pitched his idea to a road builders meeting in Springfield. The group would directly benefit from more highway construction.

The original infrastructure plan relies heavily on controversial funding sources like video poker and an expansion of the state's lottery.

Some lawmakers say they won't support a cigarette tax hike because they think it would drive people to neighboring states to make purchases.