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    Mass. Get Reprieve

    Acting Gov. Jane Swift nixes cigarette tax increase.

    BOSTON -- Acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift has vetoed a plan that would have made the states tobacco tax the highest in the nation, even though lawmakers say they have enough votes for an override.

    Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the $1 billion tax hike package last week. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say they have enough support to override the veto. They say higher taxes, combined with cuts, are needed to balance the budget and protect core services.

    Swift said the tax package would end up costing the typical family about $324 more a year in state income taxes. If there is a smoker in the family, the burden would jump by another $287 a year, Swift said.

    "Increasing the tax burden on a typical family by up to $600 as they struggle to rise above a stagnant state and national economy is the very opposite of fiscal responsibility," Swift said.

    The $1.1 billion tax package would freeze the income tax rollback at 5.3 percent. The package would also raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 75 cents.

    Swift called the cigarette tax "regressive" and said it would give Massachusetts the highest cigarette tax in the country.

    ABOVE: Acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift.

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