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MADISON, WIS. -- Kathleen Falk, the Dane County executive who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, has proposed an 85-cent-per-pack increase in Wisconsin's cigarette tax.
Falk estimated the higher tax of $1.62 per pack would bring in $250 million more a year, half of which she would steer into a savings account to pay for smoking prevention and cessation programs, according to the Star Tribune of Madison, Wis.
Republican Gov. Scott McCallum wants to empty an endowment fund created through the sale of Wisconsin' s tobacco settlement payments of its remaining $794 million to help fix a $1.1 billion budget deficit.
The Democrat-led state Senate endorsed the governor' s idea last week, while the Republican-run Assembly agreed to use up all but $125 million of the money, the report said.
Wisconsin was originally in line to gradually receive an estimated $5.9 billion from major tobacco companies as part of a multistate legal settlement. McCallum and the state Legislature agreed last year to sell 30 years of the tobacco payments for an immediate $1.2 billion.