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Thibodeaux Daily Comet - Tax Foreign Oil, Not State Residents, Governor Candidate Says

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Location: Thibodeaux, LA

Thibodeaux Daily Comet - Tax Foreign Oil, Not State Residents, Governor Candidate Says

Thibodaux Daily Comet
Staff Writer

Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Foster Campbell believes he possesses the knowledge and courage to unlock billions of untapped dollars that would make the state one of the most progressive in the South.

But for his plan to achieve fruition, Campbell, a Bossier Parish Democrat, must first overcome his lack of campaign money.

The 60-year-old businessman and farmer admits his $1 million campaign chest doesn't come close to matching those possessed by Republican challengers Bobby Jindal and John Georges. Instead, Campbell hopes his record of 27 years in the state Senate and a more

Foster Campbell, a Bossier Parish Democrat, speaks in Thibodaux during a Friday stop on his campaign for governor. Campbell's platform includes ending the state income tax. (Abby Tabor/Staff)
recent stint as Public Service Commissioner, in addition to a plan to remove the state income tax, will prove invaluable.

The state's gubernatorial primary is scheduled for Oct. 20, and State Sen. Walter Boasso of Arabi also is a Democratic candidate. Campbell toured Thibodaux Friday morning, before making stops in Morgan City and Gonzales Friday afternoon.

"We've got issues to talk about and I've got a stronger record than any of my opponents," Campbell said, speaking to The Daily Comet from inside a local law office. "But I've got $1 million, not $6 million. I don't have the money to write a large check out of my own pocket." In addition, he challenged Jindal to debate anytime, anywhere.

Campbell's campaign centers on ridding the state of its income tax, saving Louisiana's residents $3.2 billion, according to his estimates. It is no coincidence, he said, the nine richest states in the country were the only nine states not to have an income tax.

To eliminate the income tax, the state would need to charge oil companies a 6.25 percent tax to refine their product in the state. The tax on domestic oil, meanwhile, would drop from 12.5 percent to 6.25 percent.

Currently, foreign oil refined in Louisiana is not taxed by the state, Campbell said. If a tax were enacted, it would generate $5 billion or more, making it possible to wipe out the income tax and improve the state's education, highway and medical systems.

Within 15 minutes of being sworn in, Campbell said he would call a special session to vote to amend the state's current lack of taxation on foreign oil refined here.

"We have squandered our natural resources," Campbell said. "The politicians have been too cozy with the oil companies."

Simply taxing international oil corporations isn't enough, however. Campbell also plans to ask them to pay the state for damages they have caused to its coast. Studies have shown that damage to cost approximately $20 billion, he said.

"Why hasn't any politician asked for them to pay for the damage"? Campbell added, noting the government should not be expected to shoulder the financial burden of repairing the coast, when oil companies did the damage. If the companies don't comply, the candidate noted he wouldn't hesitate to sue them for the money.

"We need to have a governor with courage," he said.

Campbell touted his role in creating the Louisiana Educational Excellence Fund, which took $1 billion from the state's tobacco settlement and gave it to state schools, as evidence of his dedication to education. None of that money went to high-school sports, Campbell said, adding that he was instrumental in passing legislation requiring student-athletes to maintain a higher grade-point average.

If elected, he would explore keeping schools open during the summer for elementary students who had fallen behind in their classes.

"If we cut the drop-out rate, we can cut the incarceration rate," Campbell said.

Among his other plans, Campbell said he would bar lobbyists from the Senate and House floors and limit the number of bills a politician could introduce per session to 12. He also intends to enforce stronger penalties for pay-day loan companies, which charge some of the state's poorest residents up to 300 to 400 percent interest.

Campbell is a divorced father of six. He graduated from Northwestern State with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. He is a member of the Louisiana Cattlemen's Association, Quail Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited and the National Rifle Association.

If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the Oct. 20 election, a runoff between the top two finishers will be held Nov. 17.

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