Two recent bills introduced in the state legislature would impose a tax on companies producing oil in the state of California.
With oil companies reaping record profits in the last few years, and the state budget in disarray, lawmakers are arguing that it's time California join every other major oil-producing state in the country by introducing a severance tax.
One bill would impose a 10 percent tax, estimated to raise $1.5 billion a year in revenue based on the current price of oil.
The other would set the tax at 9.9 percent, but devote the proceeds entirely to funding higher education -- where presumably the leaders of our oil-free future will develop the skills and technology to develop clean energy alternatives.
Two earlier bills were defeated by house Republicans, even though one was supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But this time around, the budget cuts are hitting home and the bill might attract more support argues one of the new bill's sponsors.
The proposed bills, which polls say are popular with most Californians, would need a handful of Republicans in order to meet the two-thirds majority necessary to pass new taxes.
But really, when even Texans make more money on oil taxes than California, could it possibly be that controversial?
Jackson West admittedly worries that this would grease the skids for more offshore drilling.