Tax Revenues Are a Windfall for Louisiana
The New York Times:
State officials assumed that Louisiana's tax base had been battered by last year's hurricanes, but the latest figures show that the opposite occurred: more tax dollars than ever are pouring into the state's coffers as the budget year draws to an end. The state predicted that tax collections would plunge by almost $900 million this year, and it slashed spending to match. Instead, a record $9.2 billion is on track to be collected by the time the budget year ends on June 30, and at least some of that tax flow looks as if it is likely to continue. Part of the upswing has come from gamblers dropping more dollars at casinos and video poker machines. Another part has come from higher oil and gas prices, which not only increase the state's taxes and royalties, but also increase profits in the petrochemical industry, which is a vital part of the Louisiana economy. But the biggest surge by far has been in sales taxes, as hurricane victims have used federal aid, insurance proceeds and their savings to replace items as disparate as socks and S.U.V.'s. Officials forecast that the state will end up with almost $500 million more in sales tax revenue than they expected before the storms hit.