Gov. Mark Sanford said Tuesday he will veto the General Assembly-passed cigarette tax increase.
Sanford said signing the legislation into law would amount to a $1.3 billion tax increase, the largest in a generation.
"The numbers are irrefutable -- we are going to veto the bill," Sanford said at a crowded midday press conference in his office.
With state revenue in a serious decline, the Legislature approved a 50 cent increase this year, which would have raised the tax -- the lowest in the nation, to 57 cents.
The state faces a $1.2 billion shortfall next year, and lawmakers see the cigarette tax increase as a revenue generator.
Sanford was surrounded by a bevy of lawmakers who applauded his stance against what Don Weaver, of the SC Taxpayers Association, said is a regressive tax increase, meaning it disproportionately harms the poor. Leaders in the Senate and House will now have to muster two-thirds support in both chambers to overturn the governor's veto. Two years ago House lawmakers passed a cigarette tax increase but could not get the two-thirds vote to override the governor.
-- RODDIE BURRIS