Friday, April 08, 2016

Tom Benson almost got his pennies scrubbed

The last-minute scramble to raise revenues during the recent special legislative session opened the possibility for the Saints and Pelicans to terminate their contract with the state, allowing the two professional teams to leave New Orleans.

The Saints, an NFL franchise, and the Pelicans, an NBA team, weren’t commenting Friday. But Louisiana Revenue Secretary Kimberly L. Robinson said the teams’s owners haven’t raised that threat during the negotiations held over the past few weeks to sort out the mess.
See the thing is back in 2009, Bobby Jindal agreed that Tom Benson, much like any other billionaire, really shouldn't be responsible for paying taxes in the state of Louisiana.  So they wrote into the most recent ransom agreement contract between the state and the Benson empire a clause which says that the Saints and Pelicans are free to go looking for a new home if we ever try anything so rude as to collect sales taxes from them.

As it turned out, though, Jindal's cunning plan to go around handing out free money to wealthy cronies wasn't such a great thing for the state budget.  Thus the massive fiscal crisis this year. Thus the mad scramble at the end of the special session to "scrub pennies" or remove sales tax exemptions like Benson's. Thus this little faux pas where they sort of accidentally actually included Benson in that.

So then that's great, right? The governor likes to say this thing is all about "shared sacrifice." Certainly Louisiana's wealthiest individual can contribute to the communal spirit of the hour. Eh... not so much. The plan is for lawmakers to rush back in and correct this grievous injury to Benson's sacred trust with the state during the next special session. (Hey thank god they screwed up the last one so badly that we need one now, right?)

Anyway, for now they're gonna have to go through the motions of collecting their sales taxes during what remains of the Pelicans season.  They'll just have to hand it all right back later. If you're at all worried about Benson's ability to bear this crushing financial burden in the meantime,  don't be.  The increase in Saints season ticket prices should more than make up for it. Renewals are due next week, by the way.

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