Black Caucus drops tax bill

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus no longer will push for a reduction in income tax rates.

The caucus’ chairwoman, state Rep. Katrina Jackson, said Tuesday morning she dropped those proposals after the Legislative Fiscal Office reached different numbers on the impact to state revenue.

“We have made a continued commitment to the constituents to only offer legislation which positively enhances the state’s budget,” said Jackson, D-Monroe.

Instead, the caucus will push to raise the state cigarette tax from 36 cents to 68 cents per pack. The proposal is scheduled to be heard next week in committee.

The switch coincides with Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux’s decision to drop discussion of revamping the state’s tax code. Robideaux, R-Lafayette, said he could not comply with the governor’s directive for legislators to eliminate the state’s income taxes. He said there were too many concerns about stripping billions of dollars from state government.

Gov. Bobby Jindal showed up at the black caucus prayer breakfast Tuesday, a day after Robideaux announced his decision.

State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said the governor read from the Bible and made nonpolitical remarks.

“It was all on prayerfulness,” she said.