COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina legislators voted Wednesday to keep a 30-cent cigarette tax increase in the state budget, but repeatedly rejected proposals to hike the tax any higher or raise money in other ways.
The House refused by a 106 to 12 vote to remove the 30-cent a pack increase from the state's $5 billion spending plan. That's down from $7 billion two years ago.
The House also voted overwhelmingly to keep a $10 million loan to the state's only PGA tournament in the state budget.
South Carolina's 7 cents-per-pack cigarette tax is the nation's lowest and has not changed since 1977. A 30-cent increase would make the tax equal to Georgia's and still 8 cents per pack cheaper than North Carolina's.
Nationwide, the average state cigarette tax is $1.34 per pack, with Rhode Island ranking first at $3.46.$19.8 million since 2007.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.