Faced with a state deficit created by years of wasteful spending, legislators are considering a number of tax increases to patch over their past mistakes. Instead of adhering to a program of fiscal responsibility, legislators are looking to spend their way out of trouble.
One of the worst offenders is House Bill 63, sponsored by Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, which includes a 194 percent tax increase on cigarettes.
This massive tax hike will punish Louisiana’s economy for the sins of a bloated state budget.
On Sunday, the editorial board of The Advocate mocked Gov. Bobby Jindal’s no-tax-hike stance (“Wrong way on smoke tax”) on a related issue, renewing the existing four-cent tax. The Advocate’s editorial claimed that Jindal was merely posturing, stating that the governor “wants to polish his political apple.” This is simply false. Gov. Jindal’s firm stance against tax increases makes sound political sense.
More taxes are not the solution for Louisiana. The global economic crisis has eliminated trillions of dollars from the American economy. Now is not the time to increase the strain on Louisiana households with an unprecedented tax increase.
The governor is forcing the Legislature to examine the true root of the problem, rather than encouraging temporary fixes.
House Bill 63 is a double whammy for Louisiana. This bill is more government overreach to fund more government waste. Huge excise taxes such as the one proposed by House Bill 63 are yet another of liberalism’s failed experiments in social engineering. This bill is an attempt to control our choices and push agendas. Even after adjusting for inflation and the rise in population, the state budget has grown by 150 percent since 1987. Step one in Baton Rouge is getting the state government to live within its means. That’s also step two and step three.
Unlike many pieces of legislation, the tobacco tax bill is short and straightforward: It dramatically raises prices on consumers and redirects that money into the state coffers. The economic consequences of this massive tax increase will be equally straightforward. It will become tougher for Louisianaretailers and small businesses to compete. Squeezing budgets, this 194 percent tax hike will hurt the sales of all consumer products.
Consumers will take their business out of state or online, where they can save hundreds of dollars per year on cigarettes.
We need job-friendly policies from this legislative session, not actions from President Barack Obama’s playbook. Gov. Jindal deserves our support, not our ridicule. Louisiana needs the government to get out of our wallet and out of the cash registers of our small businesses.
Robin Edwards, coordinator
Louisiana Tea Party Federation
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate.