Shuffling tobacco settlement money

    Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is proposing an accounting maneuver that supporters say could help plug the state’s budget hole, but anti-smoking activists are worried.

    Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is proposing an accounting maneuver that supporters say could help plug the state’s budget hole, but anti-smoking activists are worried. They’re upset because many other states have raided anti-smoking funds to balance their budgets.

    Pennsylvania’s share of the multi-state tobacco lawsuit settlement sends 100s of millions each year to the Commonwealth for health programs.

    Usually the money is deposited directly into a tobacco settlement fund before it is distributed to hospitals and stop-smoking programs.

    Next spring, Governor Rendell wants the tobacco money to go to the general fund first and delay paying smoking-cessation programs.

    Johnna Pro is spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee Chairman.

    Pro: I would presume, it’s getting press because there are groups who receive money from the Tobacco Settlement Fund that are contacting reporters, when it’s really unnecessary. None of the groups that get money from the tobacco settlement fund will lose money at all.

    Anti-smoking advocates say unlike other states, Pennsylvania has done a good job protecting the funds from raids, but they’re worried this could signal a change in policy.

    Anti-tobacco activists says prevention and stop-smoking programs could get “lost in the shuffle” if Governor Rendell’s proposal succeeds.

    Pennsylvania gets about $300 million in tobacco settlement money each year.

    Deborah Brown is acting CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid Atlantic.

    Brown: Saying the money is going to get to where it needs to go and actually making sure that it does, is the difference.

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