A leading Kentucky lawmaker says raising the cigarette tax to $1 a pack would generate about $100 million a year that could be used to shore up the pension system for government retirees.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters that that's one of several options House lawmakers are considering to bolster the pension system, which has a $33 billion unfunded liability.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill last week that requires the state to make its full contribution to the pension system but doesn't identify a funding source to do that. Stumbo said the Democratic-led House wants a designated funding source.
The Senate bill also would create a 401(k)-like hybrid retirement plan that some House lawmakers want to remove from the legislation.
Although many communities in the U.S. have taken steps to curb smoking, Kentucky tobacco growers continue to benefit from export sales. However, the government in New Zealand today is taking some very strong steps to discourage tobacco use.