Technically, any tax can be described as a “new” tax. In reality, there are new taxes and there are renewals of existing taxes.
That distinction appears to be lost on Gov. Bobby Jindal. For him to call renewal of a tax on tobacco that has been on the books for years a “new” tax is silly. There’s no other word for it.
The governor threatens to veto a bill renewing the four-cents-per-pack levy. That would lower Louisiana’s tax on cigarettes, already the second-lowest in the nation, to 32 cents a pack. We are behind only Virginia, a tobacco-growing state.
What otherwise would be a routine bill on renewal — particularly when the government is scraping by and cutting significant services to the public — is making its way through the Legislature.
Lawmakers are showing better judgment by passing the bill by Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa. We hope the governor does not veto the Ritchie bill. It would be absurd, when just about every state is raising cigarette taxes.
They are wisely trying to keep teens from starting a potentially deadly habit. Mississippi’s tax on cigarettes is about twice that of Louisiana’s, and Texas’ rate is more than four times that here.
As Senate President Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan, noted to his colleagues, the revenue matches federal funds for health care, making the $12 million annual impact on the state much larger.
To cut the cigarette tax is a step backward.
Louisiana ought to raise its cigarette tax, and it certainly should not lower it.