Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another mile stone for us !

I just had to share this will everyone !...Until we meet again my friends remember,
Inhale ~~~123
Exhale ~~~~1234
Breathe Easy,

Dear Sandra
On May 27, 2009, Florida's Governor signed into law the bill to increases the cigarette tax with a $1 per pack surcharge! Congratulations to all the tobacco control advocates who have work tirelessly over years to reduce tobacco use by our youth and adults!

American Lung Association in Florida
Final Legislative Report
May 28, 2009

The 2009 Session of the Florida Legislature concluded on Friday, May 7th, one week late. The Legislature adopted a $66.5 billion dollar budget and passed just 238 of the 2369 pieces of legislation filed. The Governor signed the budget on May 27th.

The 2009 Session was dominated by a leadership crisis and extreme fiscal stress. In late January Speaker of the House Ray Sansom resigned his post as Speaker amidst allegations that he illegally obtained state funding for a local college in his district and then benefited from that action by accepting a full-time job at the college. Sansom was indicted in April. Sansom was replaced as Speaker by Rep. Larry Cretul. Cretul was thrust into the job and had to lead a legislature that was delayed and distracted by the ethics scandal.

The nation’s fiscal meltdown was another dominant element of the Session. Conservative Republican legislative leaders confronted the largest revenue decrease since the early 1970s and are constitutionally mandated to pass a balanced state budget. In the last two years the legislature already trimmed more than $6 billion from Florida’s budget. Pledges of “no new taxes” and “living within our means” became harder and harder to maintain. State revenues are shrinking as the need for government services to the economically distressed, and newly-distressed, citizens increases. Even the infusion of Federal Economic Stimulus dollars totaling more than $4 billion to state government still left a projected shortfall of $3.5 billion. Moreover, the timing of the Federal Stimulus dollars flowing to Florida did not neatly coincide with the timing of the state’s appropriations process. Corporate taxes, elimination of business-friendly sales tax exemptions and increased “user” fees were all suggested as means to close Florida’s revenue front. Inserting these factors into the normal challenges facing a state of 18 million citizens and one of the largest economies in the world means that there was no “politics as usual” in the 2009 Session.

Tobacco Surcharge
Against all odds and powerful lobbying efforts by the tobacco industry, retailers and wholesalers, the Legislature increased the current cigarette excise tax with a $1.00 per pack surcharge and imposed a surcharge of 60% of the wholesale price on other tobacco products. The bill also provides regulations for internet and mail order sales that require a two carton minimum purchase and valid proof of age at the time of delivery. It also requires Indian reservations to collect the surcharge on sales to nontribal members. The surcharge is expected to generate close to $1 billion in revenue for the state, and will help fund Medicaid as well as other health care programs and services. The revenues from this surcharge proved to be the linchpin in budget negotiations. The Governor signed the bill into law on May 27th.

Biomedical Research Funding
Initial House and Senate health and human services proposed budgets included reductions in biomedical research funding from general revenue. However, revenues from the tobacco surcharge include a major policy shift in this area.

House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to increases in the biomedical research program. Five percent of the tobacco surcharge revenue, up to $50 million will be dedicated to the Jim and Esther King and Bankhead-Coley Biomedical Research Programs will each receiving approximately $25 million this year.

Comprehensive Tobacco Control Education and Use Prevention Program
The budget includes $63,841,232 for the tobacco control program and is allocated as follows:
Four Staff positions $ 300,583
State & Community Interventions 10,927,545
State & Community Interventions (AHEC) 6,000,000
Health Communications Interventions 20,613,744
Cessation Interventions 11,831,565
Cessation Interventions (AHEC) 4,000,000
Surveillance & Evaluation 5,376,317
Administration & Management 2,791,478

Also, the Legislature allowed $2,000,000 from unexpended funds for last year’s Fixed Capitol Outlay to be used to provide nicotine replacement therapy.



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