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Nutter, Williams make final push for cigarette tax approval

Mayor Michael Nutter stood with State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams Monday to make one final push for the state Senate to enact the controversial cigarette tax to help fund city schools.

cigarettes ashtray stub out cigarette smoking quitting Credit: Wavebreak Media

Mayor Michael Nutter stood with State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams Monday to make one final push for the state Senate to enact the controversial cigarette tax to help fund city schools.

"We are not done, we still have more work to do," Nutter said. "And somewhere in the next 24 hours we are hopeful that this particular part will be completed."

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"While there has been a lot of backslapping and clapping and ‘We finally got it done,’ we have not gotten it done," Williams said.

The local tax — $2 per cigarette pack — would generate as much as $45 million this year and $83 million during its first full year for city schools and save about 1,300 jobs.

The measure, which passed the state house last week, still needs to pass in the Senate in the next 24 hours. The bill would then go into effect once its signed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The bill was voted out of the state house with a stipulation that charter school applicants could appeal to a higher authority if faced with a rejection from the School Reform Commission. The SRC has not approved a Charter School since 2009.

But even if the tax is approved the schools will still be in the red. Even if the schools receive the $45 million toward its $93 million budget shortfall for the 2014-2015 school year the district will be left with a roughly $48 million deficit.

But Nutter said Monday that if the tax passes he can assure parents and students classes will start on time.

"Should things go in a positive way for us tomorrow with regard to the cigarette tax, I can tell you that schools will open on time and we're working on other plans and processes and procedures to help insure an even greater level of safety in the upcoming school year. So, should there be a positive vote tomorrow from the Sentate and the cigarette tax goes into effect there is no question as to whether or not the schools will open on time, they will."

Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan

 
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