A stream of Arkansas legislators
objected yesterday to raising the severance tax on natural gas
, despite figures showing that every state in the region puts a dramatically higher levy on this depleting natural resource. Production that currently produces less than $1 million a year in Arkansas would produce more than $90 million at Texas' rate. Legislators have bought the lobbyists' line that there are somehow other taxes that make the states' incomparable. We know, however, that Texas charges a much higher property tax than Arkansas assesses. We know that any complaints about the income tax are largely meaningless at the corporate level, given the advantages Arkansas law extends to multistate corporations in tax reporting. Arkansas is being robbed and then some, when you add road and environmental damage. The notion that a meaningful tax discourages exploration is readily obliterated by the production activities in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, etc., all of which have higher rates.