- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A crucial part of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan to generate $600 million to help fund education with a package of new and extended taxes found an ally Tuesday.

Several health advocates lined up during an Assembly Tax Committee hearing to support a bill that would raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack.

Southern Nevada Health District director Joseph Iser said the proposal would raise revenue and save millions in future medical costs by reducing smoking rates.

“This will be a win-win-win for the state,” he said.

The bill would increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes from 80 cents to $1.80.

Several lobbyists for Altria, a parent company of tobacco giant Phillip Morris, testified against the measure, saying it would unfairly burdens poor people who smoke at higher rates.

“You are basically saying this year that you want to take $120 million out of the pockets of your constituents,” lobbyist Samuel McMullen said.

The bill, SB483, also would make permanent a group of temporary rates on payroll and sales taxes.

The “sunset taxes” were created in 2009 under a plan that would have phased them out two years after they were adopted, but lawmakers have temporarily extended them twice.

Sandoval has called on lawmakers to make the taxes a permanent part of the state’s budget after years of relying on them for funding.

The measure before the tax panel is a key piece of the Republican governor’s plan to generate $1.1 billion over the next two years to pay for programs to help English language learners, poor students and children who struggle to read.

The committee didn’t vote on the bill Tuesday, but will likely do so before the session ends next week.

The plan passed the Senate on an 18-3 vote in May.

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