The Pennsylvania House passed legislation last week, SB 1155, that would impose a new severance tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale and, at a rate of 39 cents per thousand cubic feet (MCF), make Pennsylvania the most heavily taxed natural gas producing state in the nation according to Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Foundation.
The measure passed 104-94 with 12 Republicans voting in favor. Of the 24 Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers in the Pennsylvania House, all but two upheld their Pledge by voting against this job-killing energy tax hike. Serial Pledge breakers, Reps. Camille George (D-74) and Richard Grucela (D-137), broke their commitment to constituents once again by voting for the severance tax.
The key point of debate was how the revenue from the severance tax, projected to bring in more than $300 million in its first full year of implementation, would be split. The bill that the House approved sends the first $70 million straight into the state’s general fund, the next $5 million is earmarked for job training. After that 32% of the tax revenue goes to local governments, 16% is directed to various environmental funds, and the remainder is tossed into the general fund. Many lawmakers who support a severance tax, voiced opposition to the way the House-passed bill allocates revenue from the new tax.
….a tax on natural gas should be about protecting our drinking water and supporting the infrastructure in the Shale region, not about building the coffers to support the out-of-control spending in Harrisburg.
Yet with over half of the revenue going straight into the general fund, padding government coffers to support out-of-control spending is primarily what this new tax will do.
Despite missing the self-imposed October 1st deadline for legislative approval of a severance tax, Gov. Rendell and state legislators continue to spread misinformation as they seek to ram through this unnecessary and unconstitutional tax increase.
In response to a recent ATR piece in the POLITICO explaining why a severance tax would be bad for Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell took to the same publication to claim that a severance tax is needed:
ATR will continue to work to defeat this ill-advised and unconstitutional tax increase as it moves to the Senate next week. Gov. Rendell