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Although it passed by a vote of 63 to 34, the $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax hike failed to receive the Constitutionally required 2/3rds vote in the State House this afternoon. 14 Democrats and 20 Republicans voted against the tax hike.
The vote was held open for about an hour, but leadership could not get enough votes for passage. Apparently, Governor Mary Fallin even went to the floor to try and persuade members to vote for the tax increase. She did the same thing last year, begging House Democrats (of all people) to come on board. Due to a procedural move, the measure can be voted on again.
Governor Mary Fallin responded to the vote with this statement:
“I’m disappointed in those legislators who put political games and Washington-like gridlock ahead of the lives of Oklahomans and the core services our citizens expect.
“It’s personal to those of us who have lost loved ones to smoking-related illnesses. It’s personal to teenagers in Oklahoma who would have been saved from lives of tobacco addiction if the bill had passed. It’s personal for citizens who would have received health care from the new revenue.
“I encourage all citizens to contact legislators and urge a yes vote on a smart way to protect the health of our citizens and the health of our state services.”
If Fallin, who started off the year by pushing for nearly 2.6 billion dollars in tax increases, is serious about ending smoking-related illnesses, or stopping tobacco addiction, perhaps she'll propose banning tobacco products next? I don't expect her to, because after all, tobacco taxes are a big cash cow. She needs people to still smoke so that their taxes can pay for things.