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House Votes to Sustain Cigarette Tax Veto

May 28, 2008

House Votes to Sustain Cigarette Tax Veto

Expanding Government Entitlement Program is Not the Answer

(Columbia, SC) – Today the S.C. House of Representatives voted to sustain the Governor’s veto on the cigarette tax increase/Government entitlement expansion bill. House Speaker Bobby Harrell took the floor to speak in favor of sustaining the veto.

Speaker Harrell said, “Today, over half of all births in South Carolina are paid for by Medicaid. This tax increase will greatly expand that number and also entitle children living in households with an income of $54,000 to have their health care coverage paid for by taxpayers through this Medicaid expansion. Medicaid was created to be a safety net for the poor – $54,000 a year is not poor.

“What kind of message are we sending to our state’s future generations? Using this tax to expand a government entitlement program will set up an expectation of non-responsibility and establish an entitlement society. These children will grow up being taught that it is the government’s job to care for them. We will be setting up an entitlement system that will most likely never go away, and will certainly never fully pay for itself. Ronald Reagan said it best, ‘The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this Earth is a government program.’

“I do believe we need to raises our state’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax, but I feel we must do so in a responsible manner. That is why I will work during the off-session on a plan that will raise the cigarette tax to assist South Carolinians in gaining access to health care and insurance coverage. But we will do so in a responsible, sustainable manner that involves the private sector, not an expansion of government entitlements. In this plan, we will take the time to properly evaluate and debate the best method in which to do that, instead of throwing together a plan in the eleventh hour of the legislative session.”

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