Friday, February 15, 2013

More on Oil Severance Tax for Higher Ed Bill

An earlier post on this blog noted an announcement of a bill in the legislature that would impose an oil severance tax dedicated to the three segments of higher ed.  It was noted on that post that the actual text of the bill was not available at that time.  Now the bill is available.  As it turns out, some of the funding (7%) goes to the Dept. of Parks and Recreation.  At present, that department is mired in a scandal about hidden funds. If you are unfamiliar with that scandal, you can start with and then Google your way back over the past year. Singling out that department for earmarked funding seems like a move certain to reduce the chances of passage.  (The other 93% of funding is split three ways among the three segments of higher ed and is not otherwise allocated.  For example, it is not earmarked for tuition reduction or any other purpose.)

The bill would require a 2/3 vote, in principle possible if all Democrats voted for it.  However, the governor has said he opposes new taxes without a vote of the people and it is not clear all Democrats would vote for it (or want to oppose the governor).  Apart from  his vote-of-the-people approach to taxes, the governor probably would not favor a general allocation with no more specific direction.

Bottom line: Don't hold your breath.

The bill's text is at:

Just a little bit of history.  California was once home to an oil boom as the film "There Will Be Blood" depicted.

And southern California was home to the major Julian oil stock/fraud scandal in the 1920s:  The state is still a significant oil producer and might increase its production, depending on how receptive it is to the controversial fracking technology.  At some point, if that happens, the issue of obtaining oil revenue for the state will come to the fore. 

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