Commentary: Only Democrats could describe a billion-dollar tax hike as though it were a tax cut
From the “if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it” department, consider this letter to the editor from former Democratic state lawmaker Ben Vig.
In it Vig blames Republican lawmakers for creating a “budget conundrum.” That’s true, as far as it goes. Majority Republican lawmakers grow state government too far and too fast during the heady days of oil boom revenues. They also perpetrated a misguided approach to property tax relief, attempting to buy up local tax burdens and hide them in boom-era budget surpluses.
Of course, a lot of Democrats voted for those policies too. But Republicans controlled the legislative chambers, so they get the blame.
But in his letter Vig deploys a talking point oft repeated by Democrats which is simply untrue. He claims that oil tax reform, passed during the 2015 legislative session, is costing the state millions of dollars every month:
In November, a legislator mentioned the state has over 30 percent less revenue in 2017 than 2015. A business would be closing their doors if this was the private sector. The primary reason for a large revenue reduction in state government was that in 2015, the Republicans gave a 1.5 percent tax break to the oil companies, or $18 million per month. That’s right, reducing the oil extraction tax from 6.5 percent to 5 percent has real ramifications, and we are asked to make up the difference. Republicans want us to believe that since oil—being a commodity with an estimated price of $55 per barrel—is low, it results in lower income. We should know better, because we are still paying $2.45 at the gas pump.
This is a lie.