Governor Pat Quinn is thanking lawmakers who voted to approve a $1 increase in cigarette taxes. It's the final piece of his plan to ease crushing financial burdens on the state’s Medicaid system.
The measure now goes to Quinn for his signature. The governor and other Democrats argue the increase will help close a $2.7 billion hole in the state Medicaid budget and help prevent smoking. Republicans object to any tax increase. Quinn said Tuesday that smoking-related illnesses cost Medicaid $1.5 billion last year. He also says the legislation will help 60,000 people quit smoking, prevent smoking-related deaths and keep 80,000 young people from starting to smoke.