Supporters of a measure that would fund an increase in college financial aid in California, by raising the excise tax on cigarettes by a dollar per pack, have been given permission to start collecting signatures in an effort to get on the November ballot.
According to the state’s Legislative Analysts Office, the tax would raise $800 million the first year. Most of that money—$730 million—would be available for financial aid for students at the University of California and California State University systems, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Unions and legislators who want to use a cigarette tax to help pay for an expansion of healthcare are expected to pressure the measure’s backers to drop their proposal, the article notes.
The measure’s supporters must collect signatures of 504,760 registered voters—the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election—in order to qualify it for the ballot, according to a news release from the office of California’s Secretary of State Debra Bowen. The signatures must be collected by July 22.