In an era where staunch opposition to raising taxes on anything is a defining principle of the Republican Party, the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Louisiana found one industry he believes doesn’t pay enough in taxes: solar energy.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who last month won a spot in Louisiana’s upcoming gubernatorial run-off, made an appearance late last week on the SportsChat radio show out of Acadiana. When the discussion turned to policy, the host asked Vitter to name an example of somewhere he’d like to cut the deficit. The Louisiana Republican pointed to encouraging solar panels as an example of government excess.
“We have some tax credits that are really giveaways and spending items by another name. For instance, the solar tax credit. That’s a check from the taxpayers for folks to buy solar panels,” Vitter said. “It’s really a spending program and it’s a big check. I don’t think the state taxpayer should be in the business of buying folks solar panels, mostly folks who are perfectly well off.”
Listen to it (relevant section at 11:30):
Louisiana has devoted around $147 million to solar tax credits since 2009, covering half the cost of rooftop installations. State lawmakers have already passed legislation to end solar tax credits by the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry has collected over $2.4 billion from Louisiana taxpayers since 2008, according to a new documentary. In other words, for every $1 in tax credits that goes towards the solar industry annually, approximately $14 goes to oil and gas companies.
In addition, those oil and gas tax credits could balloon to $1 billion annually with continued growth in the fracking industry, according to some estimates.
During his political career, Vitter has received over $1 million in financial support from the oil and gas industry. Hydrocarbon magnates, from Koch Industries to Cheniere Energy, have also contributed handsomely to Vitter’s Super PAC.
Instead of mentioning extensive oil and gas tax credits as a possible source of revenue for the state government, Vitter has instead lavished the industry with praise during his campaign. “We need to get the federal government out of the way,” Vitter declared at an Oil and Gas Industry Day event in May. “We still have too many attacks against good job producers.”
The Louisiana Oil and Gas Political Action Committee, meanwhile, endorsed Vitter for governor in late October. He will face State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) in the gubernatorial runoff on November 21, 2015.