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Lamping calls for hiking cigarette tax, reducing state income tax

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 10, 2012 - State Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, has followed through with his plan to file a bill that eliminates state income taxes on the first $2,000 in individual income and replaces the money by hiking the state's cigarette tax -- now among the nation's lowest.

Lamping says the bill is revenue neutral.

Under his proposal, SB 638, no Missourian would pay taxes on the first $2,000 of earned income. Now, state income tax is levied on all income, no matter how small. That cut would cost the state $128 million a year.

(The bill is slightly different from the $3,000 no-tax threshhold Lamping had initially considered in an interview with the Beacon last summer.)

"This reduction of Missouri state income taxes signals to taxpayers that we are doing everything we can during these tough economic times to ensure they keep as much of the money they earn as possible," Lamping said in a statement.

To replace the $128 million, Lamping proposes to increase Missouri's cigarette tax to 43 cents a pack, from the current 17 cents.  Such a hike would still put Missouri's cigarette tax among the nation's lowest -- and far below the national average of $1.46 a pack.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.