BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A proposal to raise Louisiana's cigarette tax to match the rate charged by Mississippi has won approval from the House tax committee, as part of broader budget-balancing negotiations.

The bill was a smaller tax hike than health advocates wanted. But Rep. Harold Ritchie agreed to the change, saying that was the only way to get it out of committee.

As it heads to the House floor, the proposal would raise Louisiana's cigarette tax from 36 cents per pack to 68 cents.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 11-5 to advance the bill, which would generate an estimated $67 million for the state annually.

Lawmakers are considering the tax increase as one way to drum up new money for the state budget and close a $1.6 billion shortfall next year.

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