Legislature OKs emergency spending with cigarette tax hike

The New York Legislature passed an emergency spending bill yesterday that keeps the government running for at least another week.

New York is $9 billion in debt and almost completely shut down last week because the budget is nearly four months late.

Bills being voted on today included one that called for a $350-million cut in government spending and another that slashed funds to several Long Island towns and villages by as much as 5 percent.

Lawmakers approved a cigarette tax hike of $1.60. Officials say the increase would save the state $440 million.

Opponents say the cigarette tax hike will drive New Yorkers to buy their cigarettes elsewhere and help fuel illegal sales.

The state has been without a budget since April 1.

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