Rhode Island Retailers Rally

Owners and employees of Rhode Island convenience stores are calling on state legislators to reject proposed hikes to the state’s gasoline and cigarette taxes.

Dozens of convenience store workers held a rally Tuesday against a proposal to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by one dollar to $3.46. That would be the highest such tax in the country. They also criticized a proposal to raise the gas tax from 31 cents to 33 cents a gallon, the Associated Press reported.

The workers and owners said the proposed hikes would drive customers out of state and could even push them out of business.

The proposed increases are included in a $7.2 billion spending plan that is scheduled for a floor vote on the House on Wednesday.

Lawmakers say the increases are necessary to help the state close an estimated $370 million deficit in the fiscal year ending in June.

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