Lawmakers lack guts to pass law

Published 10:49 am Monday, March 31, 2008

By Staff
Proposed changes to a state severance tax law would not necessarily have mitigated the nearly $4 million Escambia County owes ExxonMobil after a court ruling last year - but they might have helped, and they certainly would have prevented a similar problem in the future.
Instead, House budget committee members who voted against the measure allowed themselves to be bullied by a corporation that is already making record profits on the backs of average Americans every day.
ExxonMobil officials said the proposed law might discourage the company from building new wells in the area. We find it hard to believe that, in an era when oil is so profitable and in such demand, Exxon would really miss out on a chance for more money. The severance tax the company would have to pay would likely be a drop in the bucket compared to what it would make.
In the meantime, counties like Escambia are missing out on taxes for our natural resources.
County officials are hopeful that the ruling in favor of ExxonMobil will be turned over - which would save our taxpayers at least $3.37 million and would save the state $41 million.
Imagine what that kind of money would do to the county's general fund, what services and other items would have to be cut to accomodate an oil company's greed.
The state is already facing a budget shortfall this year, and shoring up the state severance tax law would have provided some needed revenue in the future.
We hope that this law can be proposed in a new way - and taken up by lawmakers with more courage than those on the House budget committee.