The Missouri Board of Education has endorsed a 425 percent cigarette tax increase as a way to raise more money for education.
The measure endorsed by the statewide board came in the form of an initiative petition circulated by an organization calling itself Show-Me A Brighter Future. The group turned in petitions for the initiative with 220,000 signatures.
The proposal would increase Missouri's 17 cents a pack cigarette tax to 90 cents a pack, a 73 cents per pack tax increase. It also would hike state taxes on other tobacco products sold in Missouri.
Missouri's 17 cents a pack state cigarette tax is the lowest in the nation.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is reviewing the petitions to determine if there are sufficient qualified voters signing the petitions seeking a statewide vote on the proposed new state law.
If the initiative petition is approved by Carnahan, and is not overturned by subsequent legal challenges, it would be placed before Missouri voters to determine if it should become a state law. Verification of signatures by the secretary of state's office is expected to be completed sometime in August. The governor or the legislature cannot block an initiative petition properly placed on the ballot and approved by voters.