Last Modified: Friday, June 22, 2012 7:45 PM
The hypocrisy of state government leaders never ceases to amaze.
The latest episode revolves around a tax credit interpretation, its disasterous implications and a quick response.
Here’s the background: On April 30, then-state Department of Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges ruled that an act passed by the state Legislature in 2009 allowing a tax credit of up to $3,000 for vehicles that use alternative fuels applied to 112 makes of vehicles dating back to the passage of the act.
The author of the act, former state Rep. Jane Smith, who later became Bridges’ deputy secretary, said that her legislation should have only applied to consumers who would convert their vehicles to run on compressed natural gas.
A report by the Monroe News Star last week noted that Bridges’ ruling could cost the state as much as $100 million. State Rep. Jim Fannin, the head of the House Appropriations Committee, told the newspaper that the potential $100 million hit to the state budget “could wreck us.”
When it came to light, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a letter rejecting Bridges’ ruling. Less than 24 hours later, Bridges resigned and Smith was appointed interim Revenue secretary. Some state lawmakers believe that the Legislature may have to be called into special session to amend the legislation.
What’s left is the sticky question of whether Louisiana residents who applied for the tax credit in the six weeks between Bridges’ interpretation and Jindal’s revocation are entitled to the tax credit.
If some of this frenetic Keystone Cops antics aren’t entertaining enough, there’s this small tidbit: Fannin applied for the tax credit on two of his vehicles prior to Jindal’s intervention.
And state Sen. President John Alario, who runs a tax preparation company, has filed for amended returns for clients who qualified for the tax credit while Bridges’ ruling was in effect.
There can be an argument that Alario did nothing wrong because it is his business to look out for his clients’ best interests and to maximize their tax credits, deductions and returns.
But Fannin? It didn’t take him long to line up at the trough for his money, even though he would later note the negative impact Bridges’ ruling would have on the state budget.
Which brings us to the topic of public service and how some lawmakers in Baton Rouge haven’t the foggiest about its ideals.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.