Amendment 2 is not a new tax
By: Paul Kedinger
CROWLEY - “It’s not a tax” is the message members of the Acadia Parish Police Jury want voters to know when they step into the voting booth on Nov. 2 and vote for constitutional amendment No. 2.
A “yes” vote for the second amendment on the ballot means “NO NEW TAXES,” but more money to blacktop and maintain parish roads and bridges.
That’s the message Jury President A.J. “Jay” Credeur spoke of during the Jury’s last meeting.
The amendment, which was endorsed by Acadia’s jurors at the Oct. 12 meeting simply means a greater percentage of severance taxes already collected in Acadia Parish will stay here rather than being redirected to Baton Rouge.
The Louisiana Constitution requires the state to give parish governments a portion of the severance taxes collected in each parish. It requires that 20 percent of the state severance tax on all natural resources, other than sulfur, lignite or timber, be shared with the parishes of origin. But, the amount each parish can receive is capped at $850,000, adjusted annually for inflation. The cap for 2009 was $907,534 for the calendar year.
In 2009, Acadia Parish generated over $10 million in severance taxes on the recovery of natural resources, such as oil, natural gas, and timber and received $850,000 in return.
Local governments are prohibited from levying a severance tax. The sharing of state severance tax revenue, which goes back to at least the 1921 Constitution, is intended to help compensate parishes for wear and tear on roads and bridges by oil and gas drilling equipment and other related traffic, points out the Public Affairs Research Council (FAR) in its guide to the constitutional amendments.
In 2009, the state collected $672 million in severance taxes and remitted nearly 5 percent back to the parishes where the tax was generated.
PAR’s examination indicates the amendment would increase the amount of severance tax revenue the state is required to share with the parishes in which the severance tax was generated. The increase would be phased in over two fiscal years. The maximum amount that would have to be shared with each parish would be increased from $850,000 per year (2007 dollars) to $1.85 million for the first fiscal year (a 104 percent increase over the 2009 level) and $2.85 million (a 214 percent increase over the 2009 level) thereafter. The higher cap would be adjusted annually upward for inflation.
Police jurors throughout the state fear voters will simply see the word “Tax” in the amendment and vote no. That’s what happened in 2006 and 2008 when voters were asked to accept or reject other constitutional amendments that would affect the severance tax cap.
Turning more money for Acadia Parish road project, a “Yes” vote would create the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund, which would be used exclusively for Atchafalaya Basin projects approved by an advisory or approval board created in law. A new dedication of 50 percent of severance tax revenue collected on state lands in the Atchafalaya Basin – up to $10 million annually.