Philly Cigarette Tax Hike Becomes Law

Sharon Ward |

It’s finally law! Philadelphia can now raise its own local cigarette tax by $2 per pack to fund its own schools and prevent further teacher losses and cuts in the classrooms.

Gov. Corbett signed the bill authorizing the increase today, after the state Senate passed it by a 39-11 vote last night, and the state House of Representatives approved it by a 114-84 vote on Monday.

The new tax, effective Oct. 1 on cigarettes and little cigars in the city only, is expected to raise $80 million for the Philadelphia School District, which has endured draconian budget cuts, school closures and widespread staff layoffs because of funding shortfalls.

The bill had been in limbo for months as legislators first wrangled over it and then refused to return from their summer vacation to vote on it before the start of the school year.

Each week of delay cost the school district $1.6 million in revenue. More school closures and another 1,000 staff layoffs were imminent without passage of the legislation.