On Tuesday, the Louisiana House of Representatives voted to raise the state’s tobacco tax by passing HB 591. HB 591, which blocks the scheduled expiration of a four cent per pack cigarette tax, passed by a 70-30 margin, the bare minimum required to increase or renew any taxes in Louisiana.
Seven Louisiana legislators who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise to Louisiana taxpayers to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes,” broke their commitment to constituents by voting for HB 591. The seven representatives that broke their Pledge are as follows:
Steve Carter (H-38), Jean Doerge (H-10), Joe Harrison (H-51), Dorothy Sue Hill (H-32), Sam Jones (H-50), Anthony Ligi (H-79), and Jerome Richard (H-55).
“While it’s unfortunate that some lawmakers chose to go back on their central campaign commitment to voters, ATR applauds the nine house members who stood by their pledge to oppose job-killing tax hikes in the Pelican State,” stated Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “Passing this bill goes against all of the hard work that the Louisiana legislature has done in the past three years to reduce the state’s tax burden and increase economic competitiveness. Furthermore, it’s well documented that tobacco tax hikes are nothing more than a budget gimmick serving as a place holder for future tax increases on the general populace. Lawmakers in other states have recognized this and are moving to actually lower tobacco taxes. Proponents of HB 591 seek to take the state in the wrong direction.”
HB 591 now heads to the Senate, where its fate is unclear. Eight members of the Senate have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and are expected to oppose the tax hike. Gov. Bobby Jindal has already made clear that tax increases are a non-starter and dead on arrival should they reach his desk.
“With politicians in Washington, D.C. having raised hundreds of billions of dollars in higher federal taxes in the last few years, it’s appalling that some legislators see fit to pile on with more job-killing tax increases at the state level. On top of the 156 percent tax hike on cigarettes signed into law by President Obama, HB 591 only serves to further impugn and reduce the disposable income of honest, hard-working Louisianans,” added Norquist. “I urge the Senate to reject this unnecessary and ill-advised tax increase. It’s time for lawmakers to do the job that voters sent them to Baton Rouge to do: put expenditures in line with revenues without looting more money from the private economy.”