A Different Take On Cigarette Taxes As A Replacement For Income Tax

Editor’s Note: while there’s a good bit of dishonesty in the opposition to the governor’s tax reform plan, there are also folks who have an honest perspective on the plan as well. Here’s one which, unlike the Louisiana Budget Project’s ridiculous propaganda, actually deserves a hearing…

For many decades, I’ve been a small business owner in Louisiana.  Through hard work, our employees and family have helped our business expand into small towns throughout Louisiana from the Cut Off and Houma areas to Natchitoches and Lake Charles.

Now, our small business and others like us around the state are facing a threat from an unlikely source: the Louisiana Legislature.

Recently, Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed a significant tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products to help fill a budget gap.  He is asking the Legislature to add an additional $1.05 in tax bringing the total Louisiana state tax rate to $1.41.  This rate would be much higher than our neighbors Mississippi (68 cents) and Arkansas ($1.15). Couple this with his 240% proposed tax increase on other tobacco products and thousands of small businesses in Louisiana will suffer.

An increase in cigarette and other tobacco product taxes will drive business away from our stores and out of our state.  Consumers are looking for the best price and this burdensome tax will result in local businesses like ours losing customers and revenue.

Even the Governor’s own administration officials have acknowledged that Louisiana businesses will pick up much of the burden of the current plan.

Higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products are not the solution to our state’s budget woes. What we need is a Legislature that focuses on finding permanent solutions rather than scraping together temporary fixes each year.

Louisiana cannot afford to weaken our local economies and put jobs at risk.  The Legislature needs to take a stand against this onerous tax increase.

I will be watching closely how my legislators proceed on this issue, and I encourage you to do the same.

John Dan Gielen
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