Ill. House committee OKs higher cigarette tax

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A plan to raise Illinois cigarette taxes by $1 a pack has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

An Illinois House committee approved the plan 9-1 Friday. The full House immediately began debating the proposal.

The measure more than doubles the tax on cigarettes, to $1.98 a pack. Other tobacco products would see a similar tax increase.

It also would create a special tax on hospitals that would then be matched by the federal government and returned to the state.

In all, it's supposed to raise $800 million a year for the Medicaid program. Officials yesterday approved deep Medicaid cuts.

Together the tax increases and spending cuts are supposed to close a $2.7 billion hole in the state Medicaid budget.

The bill is SB2194.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.