Pa. lawmakers consider tax on natural gas, cigars

    The Pennsylvania state House is expected to vote today on a budget bill that would increase cigarette taxes and impose a levy on natural gas drilling.

    The Pennsylvania state House is expected to vote today on a budget bill that would increase cigarette taxes and impose a levy on natural gas drilling.

    The House was set to act on its tax bill in late May, but Democratic leaders postponed the vote after caucus members’ support wavered.

    The bill has since been amended – it now includes a cigar tax, and reduces its cigarette tax increase from 30 to 10 cents a pack.

    Johnna Pro, the spokesperson for House Appropriations Chair Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), says Democrats feel like that’s a better approach.

    “I think, once folks really had a chance to sit down and look at the numbers,” says Pro, “it made more sense to do a lower cigarette tax increase, and then bring cigars back into the mix. We are the only state that doesn’t tax cigars.”

    The bill also includes an eight percent tax on natural gas drilling, and caps the discount given to vendors who turn in tax revenue at $500,000.

    Pro says the package generates about $280 million for the commonwealth’s general fund.

    If the measure passes it heads over to the Senate, where Republican leaders say they’re opposed to any tax increases.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.