State Chamber President Says Cigarette Tax a Crucial Priority for Special Session
Oklahoma City (September 26, 2017) – With special session underway at the Oklahoma Legislature, it is imperative to address the primary reason for the session: filling the $215 million budget shortfall created by a recently overturned cigarette fee.
“We agree with House and Senate leadership that passing a $1.50 cigarette tax is essential to our state’s ability to fund core health care services for our citizens,” said State Chamber President and CEO Fred Morgan. “A stable, adequately funded health care system is crucial to Oklahoma’s business community and economic development. Accordingly, the cigarette tax must be the top priority for the Legislature.”
“Our state has other structural and budgetary issues that must be addressed soon,” said Morgan. “The current economic downturn has underscored that comprehensive, forward-thinking changes are needed to strengthen our budget. Solving complex, long-standing structural issues, however, will require thoughtful discourse—and time,” continued Morgan. “Meanwhile, our state urgently needs to fill the $215 million budget gap. There’s only a narrow window of time available during this special session, so we encourage the Legislature to pass the cigarette tax without delay.”
The cigarette tax has widespread support, with 74 percent of Oklahomans favoring an increase the tobacco tax to fund health care.