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|Riser opposes tobacco, Internet taxes|
A pair of tax proposals making their way through the legislative process would fund "valuable programs" but raising taxes to pay for them is out of the question, state Sen. Neil Riser said.
Riser said a proposed 15-cent per pack cigarette tax would be used to fund health programs while a second 15-cent per month tax on Internet connections would be used to fund Internet crime investigation.
However, Riser said he would vote against both taxes because the state already funds programs in those areas and new taxes may not be needed.
"Even though I agree with the causes that we're spending it on, they're honorable causes and are being pursued right now," said Riser, R-Columbia. "I don't think the tax will raise enough money."
Riser said he believed the proposed tobacco might harm revenues in parishes along the state's borders.
"It's been demonstrated in the past where, when there is a significant tax difference, people will drive into the next state to save that money," Riser said. "That hurts the border parishes because they lose that revenue."
Riser also questioned whether a proposed Internet tax would not be struck down in federal court.
"There is a question of whether it is constitutional to levy the tax," Riser said. "There was a (U.S.) Supreme Court ruling a few years back that may apply."
If the tax were ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, the state would not be allowed to collect it.
That would cause a budget shortfall because the lost revenue would already be in the budget, Riser said.