Democrat Budget Proposal Should Have Begun With An Apology On Oil Taxes

You have to hand it to North Dakota Democrats. What they lack in electability they make up for in chutzpah.

Yesterday a group of Democrat lawmakers got together and called for the state to create two budgets in the face of revenue uncertainty caused by falling oil prices. “Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider referred to a Legislative Council memo projecting the state could lose nearly $3.2 billion in oil tax revenue if crude prices remain between $44 and $52 a barrel through the 2015-17 biennium, and another $2.4 billion if oil extraction tax exemptions are triggered by continued low prices,” reports Mike Nowtazki. “That would leave the state with about $5.6 billion less in oil taxes than the $8.3 billion projected in the December revenue forecast used in Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s executive budget recommendation.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”Can we just pause for a moment and appreciate the enormous hypocrisy involved in Democrats patting themselves on the back for killing tax reforms which would have removed a good deal of this revenue uncertainty, only to turn around and demand a second state budget to address…revenue uncertainty?”[/mks_pullquote]

What’s remarkable about this is that it wasn’t so long ago (literally just days) that Senator Schneider was patting Democrats on the back for killing oil tax reform which would have rescinded these tax triggers.

Can we just pause for a moment and appreciate the enormous hypocrisy involved in Democrats patting themselves on the back for killing tax reforms which would have removed a good deal of this revenue uncertainty, only to turn around and demand a second state budget to address…revenue uncertainty?

Democrats politicized the oil tax reform issue. They cast it as a handout for big oil. Yet, what we’re seeing now is that it was common sense reform which would have flattened the states oil taxes, lowering the top rate a couple of percentage points in exchange for eliminating exemptions and triggers.

Schneider and his fellow liberals don’t share all the blame for this. They are, after all, the super-minority. Republicans could have pushed these reforms through over their objections. To that extent, Republicans deserve blame too.

Republicans were afraid that Democrat talking points about handouts for “big oil” would cost them at the ballot box. They shouldn’t have cowered in the face of those partisan antics.

But neither should Democrats be allowed to get away with this rank hypocrisy.

Any Democrat proposal to address revenue uncertainty over the next few years ought to start with an apology to the state’s taxpayers for helping to create that uncertainty.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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