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ACADIANA, La. -- Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco convinced a House committee to send a sin-tax bill to a vote this past Monday, with a last-minute amendment to the bill, driving the proposed cigarette tax even higher, according to Louisiana's channel KLFY news.
The governor asked the House Ways and Means Committee to bump up her original cigarette tax proposal from an additional 50 cents a pack to an extra $1 per pack.
The money raised would go to increasing teacher and other schoolworker pay. Money raised by a new cigarette tax, combined with money already allotted for raises, should be used to give every teacher in Louisiana a $3,300 pay raise during the next two years, Blanco said in a report by The New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The current Louisiana cigarette tax is 36 cents per pack and one of the lowest in the country. The increase is expected to bring in at least another $182 million on top of that, all of it dedicated to the schools.
The other two sin-tax bills involve alcohol and gaming and were deferred Monday morning to put more effort into getting the cigarette tax bill onto the House floor, according to the report.
Louisiana is currently listed 42nd in the country for cigarette sales taxes, and at least one of the neighboring states around Louisiana has cheap cigarette taxes.
Mississippi charges only 18 cents a pack and Tennessee is only 20 cents a pack. The most expensive cigarette tax in the country at $2.46 cents per pack is in Rhode Island and the cheapest is South Carolina at 7 cents.