The governor is pressing the case for a cigarette tax increase to save Medicaid. Gov. Pat Quinn proposes raising the tax on cigarettes by $1 as part of the effort to close a gap of $2.7 billion in the Medicaid budget. He says it’s a revenue producer and a cost saver.
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“Well, we want to reduce Medicaid costs over the short term and over the long term, and there’s a proven way to do that, to reduce tobacco-related diseases, to stop one of the biggest causes of cancer in Illinois is cigarette smoking, and there’s statistical proof that if you raise the price of cigarettes, a lot of young people never start smoking,” he said. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says she is not philosophically opposed to a cigarette tax increase, but she objects to raising it because she says it’s a revenue solution to a spending problem. The governor notes that three-quarters of his plan to reconcile the Medicaid budget is cuts, and he doesn’t want to cut any further.