Members of the Legislature's budget conference committee are being told the state needs to pass a proposed $1.25 a pack increase in the cigarette tax. The message is coming from Maureen Busalacchi, head of SmokeFree Wisconsin, who says taxes need to be increased so the state has more money to combat youth and pregnancy smoking rates. She says the state can't afford to keep things the same because Medicaid costs for smoking-related illnesses continue to climb.
Governor Doyle proposed the $1.25 tax, which Senate Democrats endorsed and Assembly Republicans rejected. What action comes out of the conference committee remains to be seen.