Senators saw a pile of unallocated potential money as part of a House bill to extend the tax amnesty program, and they jumped at it.
“Let’s do something we can go home and say, ‘Yes! We did something for economic development’,” Delhi Senator Francis Thompson urged.
“My amendment will give 25-million dollars to the Board of Regents, to higher education,” New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson offered.
“Let’s put it where we got a 12-billion dollar backlog. Put everything we got into those roads,” Benton Senator Robert Adley pushed for infrastructure funding.
The Tax Amnesty extension bill dedicates the first $100-million collected to the State General Fund, but anything beyond that was not yet spoken for. Thompson immediately offered an amendment to dedicate the next $4-million to regional economic development agencies, and Adley objected.
“Don’t start robbin’ Peter to pay Paul, and robbin’ from money, Francis, we don’t even have yet,” Adley remonstrated with Thompson.
New Orleans Senator Edwin Murray added his voice to the fray, noting, “We are appropriating money that we don’t have yet!”
But Thompson got his $4-million, and Senator Peterson got the next $25-million of possible tax collections dedicated to higher education. Then Adley jumped in, and tried to strip those allocations, giving everything to highways instead. Thompson came unglued.
“He’s the one with the biggest bag right now!” Thompson shouted, pointing at Adley. “He’s up here trying to get all the money!”
Adley’s amendment failed, leaving the economic development and higher education moneys intact. Then Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor had one final suggestion.
“All this discussion we’re having here, as far as this imaginary money we haven’t collected yet, I thought the ‘Unicorn and Fairy Dust Fund’ would be an appropriate fund for us to put the excess in,” Claitor offered.
The bill to extend the tax amnesty program did pass, although without allocations for unicorns and fairy dust.