Missouri is losing almost $70 million in tobacco settlement funds this year, money that Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer says could have gone to seniors, public schools or state building projects. The state could lose as much as $2 billion over the next decade, according to Schaefer and Attorney General Chris Koster’s general counsel, Joan Gummels.
Schaefer and Gummels were making a pitch to the Senate Appropriations Committee for Schaefer’s proposal to eliminate a pricing advantage enjoyed in Missouri by small cigarette makers. Missouri was among 46 states that settled a case in 1998 with major tobacco companies, and Missouri has pulled in more than $2.1 billion from the settlement. But that money is in jeopardy, in part, because Missouri is the only one of the 46 states that has not passed a law that would keep smaller cigarette manufacturers from enjoying a competitive advantage.