Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reflections on Windfall Tax Spending in DeSoto

Five years ago, the movie "Haynesville" came out and arrived at a theater near me.  One of my takeaways was the discussion of Norway's approach to the oil wealth "problem."  The country has maintained a very conservative approach to managing its energy windfall and created a trust fund that benefits the entire population of the country.

I was thinking about Norway when reading an article on the Environment and Energy web site reflecting on the spending of Haynesville tax revenues in DeSoto Parish and the communities within it, which racked up huge tax windfalls in tax revenues from the short-lived Haynesville Shale drilling boom of 2009-11.  Not exactly the Norway approach, and not everyone will approve of how funds were allocated, but most of the entities made some one-time purchases that would normally have been out of reach (but were not excessively extravagant) and focused on health, safety and education in their spending.  Others weren't quite as prudent.  Some entities even kept some money around for a rainy day, not exactly a Louisiana oil boom mentality.  Maybe some of us actually learned something from years of bouncing around in a recurring boom-bust energy cycle.

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