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Emanuel: Cigarette tax increase possible

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he had not ruled out raising the city’s cigarette tax to help close what his office says will be a $298 million hole in the 2013 budget.

Emanuel added taxes he will not hike include: the current property tax, sales tax, fuel tax and amusement tax.

The mayor also said his budget will eliminate the per employee head tax ahead of schedule. When Emanuel entered office, the head tax required businesses with 50 or more employees to pay $4 per employee. Emanuel has called that tax a “job killer” and made a campaign pledge to eliminate it.

At an unrelated press conference at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, Emanuel said he had not made a decision yet on whether to bump up the cigarette tax, but the mayor did say he knew where the extra revenue would go.

“If we do consider a cigarette tax, it has to invest in children’s health,” Emanuel said.

The city’s cigarette tax is currently 68 cents per pack. Any increase would come on the heels of a $1-per-pack tax hike from the state, which took effect earlier this summer.

The state’s general assembly passed that as part of its Medicaid reform package.

Emanuel is scheduled to make his budget address in early October.


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