Chuck Hatfield | St. Louis Public Radio

Chuck Hatfield

The Rev. Starsky Wilson speaks at a news conference on Tuesday in favor of a tobacco tax increase for early childhood education and health care.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians could weigh in this fall on four ballot initiatives that Secretary of State Jason Kander certified on Tuesday. But the tally of items could potentially constrict, depending on what courts decide in the coming weeks.

Curran | Flickr

For all the talk about increasing Missouri’s tobacco tax to provide more money for education and transportation, the state’s two dueling tobacco-tax proposals appear caught in a longstanding dispute that has nothing to do with their objectives.

Tobacco companies are the chief donors to both initiative-petition campaigns that seek to increase the state’s 17-cent-a-pack tobacco tax, now the nation’s lowest. One would raise the tax by 23 cents a pack to pay for transportation improvements, while the other would hike the tax by 60 cents a pack to pay for early childhood programs.