Special Session, Day 3: Cigarette tax considered, Higher Ed cuts

courtesy: KNOE
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BATON ROUGE, La (KNOE 8 News) - In day 3 of the special session, lawmakers look at the cigarette tax bill to increase taxes on the purchase of cigarettes and cuts to higher education.

Cigarette Tax Bill
The tax would increase the current tax on cigarettes by 22 cents. Right now the tax is 86 cents and under this bill it would increase to $1.08.

Representative say this should generate anywhere from 16 to 20 million dollars during this fiscal depending on the date it goes into effect.

They say it will bring in nearly 50 million dollars during next years fiscal year. And save 800 million dollars in healthcare cost.

However, some lawmakers say we could be heavy handing the industry and small business owners testified it would hurt their business.

Some organizations testified the tax wasn't enough and they want it increased by $1.25.

Higher Education
Higher education leaders presented their proposed budget to the house appropriations committee. Political pundit James Carville, supporting his alma mater LSU, sat in on the committee meeting and he is concerned.

Carville says he wants young people to have the same opportunity that he did and we need to be realistic about the situation. Carville wants to be apart of the soultion, which is why he is attending these meetings.

Universities are facing difficult times. Southern and Nicholls are in jeopardy of closing their doors.

LSU's Ag program in on the chopping block as well.

There may be changes coming to the TOPS program to address the budget.

Currently, 46,000 students receive TOPS. If nothing is done to bridge the budget shortfall, nearly 38,000 students will lose their TOPS scholarships. This will leave only 8,000 students on the program.