The 2010 session of the Utah Legislature opens on January 25 and once again there is a major revenue shortfall. Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, who serves as co-chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee, says lawmakers will have to decide whether to make drastic budget cuts or increase revenue by raising taxes.On Tuesday, Hillyard told the Cache County Council he could support an increase in the cigarette tax. “I don’t look at the cigarette tax as a tax issue,” Hillyard said. “It’s a health issue.”He said the tax revenues it generates are less valuable than the potential health benefits. “I know that there’s a segment of our society that’s addicted to tobacco, who are low income and it is a very, very horrendous problem to them. “But I think if we raise the cigarette tax so that youth can’t get involved in it and if we can help in some health issues for those that are addicted, I could feel comfortable with that one.”Hillyard says right now the tax on cigarettes in Utah is .70 cents while the western average is $1.10 and the national average $1.20.
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