House approves budget, including cigarette tax increase

(AP file photo/Gene J. Puskar)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Lawmakers are depending on smokers to help keep a two-year budget proposal in the black.

A $1-per-pack cigarette tax increase will help fund the $31.7 billion budget over the next two years.

The budget includes a modest K-12 education spending increase and directs $10 million to the state's pilot preschool program. It also sets aside $5 million to fund state efforts to fight drug addiction and give state police a pay raise.

"We are doing so many things in this budget that are helping everyday Hoosiers to get up and go to work every day. And one thing they ask of us is be responsible in your budget," Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Kokomo) told the House.

"Call it what you want. Call it user fee an assessment, but there is one in here with regard to the purchase of cigarettes," House Minority Leader Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) said.

The budget passed out and is now headed over the Senate, where it will be reworked. We are officially at the halfway point of this legislative session.

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