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Black Caucus proposes $0.36 tobacco tax hike to drum up revenue

Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 8:32pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 9:39pm

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus are dropping all but one of their tax reform bills. The group of over 30 senators and representatives originally put together a bundle of bills that would have offered an alternative plan to the governor's proposed tax overhaul.

The only bill left on the table from the group proposes to put a $0.36 tax on each pack of cigarettes. The bill's author, Representative Katrina Jackson, said the tax hike would raise millions yearly in revenue for programs that have seen some big cuts. Revenue, she explained, would be distributed between Medicaid and targeted higher education programs.

" We know we've cut higher education to the bare bone. So what it does is we look at the medical school and all the health science majors, because those are the most expensive majors at the school. so we take and we give about $15-20 million annually to LSU medical school," Jackson said.

The bill was slated for discussion in the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday, but was pushed to next week. Representative Jackson explained she shelved the debate until next week so committee members can look over the newest amendments.

"Everything that we're doing in this bill directly relates to health care and directly relates to smoking and the illnesses caused from it. But I think the $0.36 cent tax is much more reasonable than that $1.05. "

She continued on to explain just how the revenue would be distributed:

  • $65 million would go to the Medicaid fund.
  • $15 million to the state employees retirment fund.
  • $45 million to the higher education fund. That fund would disperse the money between several medical programs at many state schools.

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