Remember the Ted Mack Amateur Hour on the old DuMont television network?
If not, don’t worry. Now that the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal is more than six years into its very own amateur show, it’s doubtful that even the most nostalgic among us would prefer watch those old grainy black and white, out of focus shows.
Not when you have this bunch bumbling and stumbling through botched polices in health care, education, environmental matters (remember those $250 million sand berms Jindal insisted on during the BP spill, the ones that washed away before they could even be completed?). And then there have been questionable contracts and one fiscal disaster after another as Jindal attempts each year to patch together the state’s operating budget with Bond-O and duct tape.
Ah, yes, those fiscal snafus.
And now there may be another looming on the horizon though granted, it probably won’t be on the magnitude of a quarter-billion dollar disappearing berm in the Gulf of Mexico or the massive budget cuts inflicted on higher education.
But it could turn into another of those pesky problems that Jindal just does not seem to be capable of handling. He reminds us of actor Chevy Chase, master of the pratfall where he just keeps falling and falling, wrecking everything in his path.
Remember when the alternative fuel tax rebate enacted by the legislature and signed by Jindal in 2009 went into effect two years ago this month?
When the bill was passed and signed as Act 469 of 2009, it was to give tax credits to purchasers of vehicles which used alternative fuels such as propane, butane and electricity and was projected to cost the state $900,000 over five years.
But then the flex fuel vehicles began hitting the market, catching everyone unprepared for the onslaught of buyers seeking the tax credits and the cost suddenly mushroomed to $100 million. When the true impact of the new law became apparent, Jindal immediately rescinded the act but not before 5,456 returns had been received by the Department of Revenue claiming total tax credits of a tad north of $18 million. Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego), who owns a tax preparation service, filed stacks of applications on behalf of his clients—without, of course, informing the administration of the financial consequences.
Another senator alerted Alario to the potential problem—after purchasing a vehicle and claiming his own tax credit—but neither informed Jindal. And neither did Rep. Jim Fannin (R-Jonesboro), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee—not even after he had filed for the $3,000 tax credit on each of the two vehicles he purchased.
The administration, in finally awakening from its apparent slumber and during one of the few days Jindal was vacationing in Louisiana, voided the law and announced that any new car buyer who had already submitted his or her application to the state would receive the maximum allowable tax credit up to $3,000 but subsequent purchasers would not be eligible.
And therein lies the problem.
The Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, an independent quasi-judicial entity comprised of three attorneys who are tax law experts who must decide on the merits of appeals, currently has 700 appeals from car buyers who were denied the tax credit.
If all 700 applicants were to be approved for the $3,000 tax credit, the state would be on the hook for $2.1 million.
The next scheduled meeting of the board is in August, though the date was not available because the board’s web page has not been updated since 2013.