Earlier today, the Louisiana House Ways & Means Committee by 8-7 passed HB 889 which will result in a sharp tax increase for consumers of tobacco products. HB 889 would cause Pelican State tobacco consumers to see taxes to rise 50 percent on cigars, 50 percent on smokeless tobacco, and the price of a pack of cigarettes rise by 50 cents per pack – a 138 percent tax increase.
Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization that opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle, noted that while some committee members upheld their promise to not raise taxes, not all remained true to their word. In voting to pass HB 889 out of committee, Rep. Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge) broke the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that he signed.
“It’s unfortunate that Rep. Carter went back on his promise by signing off a massive tax hike that would hit Pelican State taxpayers in the middle of a recession.” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.  “However, there is still an opportunity for Carter to correct this misstep. ATR remains hopeful that he will reconsider his position and vote in the best interests of taxpayers when this comes to a vote before the full House.”
Rep. Carter was the only committee member to break his Pledge. The other Pledge signers on the Ways & Means Committee – Representatives Jane Smith (R-Bossier City), Cameron Henry (R-New Orleans), and Jerome Richard (Thibodaux-I) – all upheld their promise to constituents by voting “Nea.”
“Evidence from nearly every state that has unfairly targeted smokers for government revenue shows that very few tobacco tax hikes actually meet their revenue goals. Point of fact, you cannot fund broad spending programs on a declining revenue source. Smokers and non-smokers alike should be opposed to a tobacco tax hike. A tobacco tax increase today ensures a sales, income, or property tax increase down the road.” added Mr. Norquist. “What’s funny is that many proponents of this bill claim to defend ‘the little guy.’ In reality, a tobacco tax increase will be borne by those Louisianans least able to afford it. On average, smokers, whose median income is a little more than $36,000, make about 30 percent less than non-smokers. With Obama recently imposing a 61 cent federal tobacco tax increase, any additional levy at the state level will only add insult to injury. I urge all Louisiana legislators to reject HB 889.”