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Williams defends vote for sunset amendment on cigarette tax

By the Notebook on Jul 9, 2014 04:05 PM

Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has been criticized for being the only Philadelphia Democrat in the Senate to vote for an amendment that would "sunset" the $2-a-pack cigarette tax for Philadelphia schools after five years.

In a statement sent to reporters, Williams said he did so as the best choice available to get the tax approved.

Following is the text of his statement:

Earlier today, some individuals expressed anger over the political process of gaining support for the proposed cigarette tax, including my vote on an amendment to House Bill 1177 that included, among other things, a five-year sunset provision for the tax. I certainly understand and share the frustration that all of us feel who have worked so hard to win support for the critically important cigarette tax.

Over the last two years, I have worked hard to secure two major new sources of funding for the children of Philadelphia: first, the dedication of the 1 percent sales tax for school use, which was enacted last year; and now, the cigarette tax. When I introduced the legislation to authorize the expansion of Philadelphia’s cigarette tax, I knew that it would be a tough battle. Yet we all persevered, and throughout this struggle I have worked with my colleagues in the Senate and House, on both sides of the aisle, to find a solution for our schools.

To keep the cigarette tax bill alive, last night I made a decision to support moving the bill out of the Senate Rules Committee and get it to the floor for a vote where all of my Democratic colleagues voted in support of it. A 5-year “sunset” provision was included in the amendment, but I was able to remove additional language that would have hurt the Philadelphia School District. I voted to support the amendment, and I did so because it appeared that the cigarette tax would have been defeated without the amendment. In my view, it was the only responsible choice to assure the passage of this critical funding source for Philadelphia’s public schools.

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Comments (7)

Submitted by JMH (not verified) on July 9, 2014 7:36 pm

Y'all are missing the forest for the trees!  Quit okaying stop gap measures that appease this person and that person and just DO THE RIGHT THING!!!!!   Fund the schools in Philadelphia....it is not a joke.  These politicians are in a cloud and have no idea where it begins or ends.  Where is the vision?  Big Picture?  Anybody?  Anybody?

Submitted by Annony (not verified) on July 9, 2014 9:27 pm

Sen. Williams - What about the charer double dip on pensions?  What about the charter scam ($150 million / year) on special ed. funding?  Make charters pay and then there will be some funds.  Stop nickle/diming the public schools!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2014 10:46 pm

Williams is the worst democratic senator inPA. Of course he interest is charter schools since he owns own that is a total failure like himself.

Watch out this self serving senator wants to replace Nutter when his term is up. He is worse than Nuttier

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2014 10:17 pm

But still better than Darrell Clarke. The soft bigotry of low expectations. 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2014 12:27 am

We really do have to get out of this lesser of two evils mentality. It is killing us because the Democratic machine just shrugs and says we have no where else to go. When is the grassroots community and rank and file trade unionists going to start running their own candidates independent of the Democratic Party machine?

Submitted by huh? (not verified) on July 10, 2014 10:23 am

Thanks for quoting George W., but  Williams as mayor would be the end of public schools in this city.  Not so for Clarke.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2014 11:25 pm

Almost the entire text describes things he's done but doesn't really explain why he ultimately didn't vote yes for the cigarette tax.  Typical propaganda and political shenanigans.  Pass the bill without the additional riders and move on to the other issues.  There should be a law that politicians, both state and federal, can only vote for one bill at a time without any supplemental riders, exceptions, or conditions.  The voting record of lawmakers would then be crystal clear so voters could much more easily decide who they wanted to vote for and politicians couldn't hide in doublespeak and ambiguity.

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