Tax to extract
The catastrophic flood of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico has California Democrats thinking budget politics at home. They figure the outrage and mistrust the public feels about BP and Big Oil right now might help liberal legislators finally make a successful argument in favor of a statewide oil-severance tax.
Hey, whatever works! We’ve been calling, in this space, for California to adopt such a tax for a long time. Indeed, ours is the only major oil-producing state in the country that doesn’t impose such a tax on energy producers. Some $2 billion could be raised annually if we did this. That’s a significant sum, even given our state’s whopping $18.6 billion deficit.
Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, has introduced Assembly Bill 656, which would impose a 12.5 percent severance tax, specifically to fund higher education, which has taken a giant whack over the past 10 years. Torrico believes that higher education in California is in trouble—due to student fee increases and mighty cutbacks on state, community colleges and universities this last decade—and that A.B. 656 can right some of the wrongs.
We agree. At press time, the bill was entering hearings at the Senate Education Committee. It should pass out of that committee—then it’s on to the next hurdle. (Hint: They’re going to get higher and higher before the end.) This one should be a no-brainer. Please join us urging legislators to support A.B. 656.