PA Republicans Say No Severance Tax in Budget Heading to Gov. Wolf

Good news for Pennsylvanians. The PA legislature is moving forward with passing a budget bill that does not include a Marcellus-killing severance tax. The Gov. Tom Wolf administration has been obstinate and unyielding in their demand for a 17.3% severance tax (often mischaracterized by Wolf and the media as a “5%” severance tax). The Republicans in both the House and Senate have (amazingly) held firm in their position of no new severance tax since Marcellus drillers already pay an impact fee (i.e., a tax) equivalent to a 3.2% severance tax now. Wolf’s claim that his tax is 5% is a flat out, 100% lie. He bases the tax on the assumption that drillers will get $2.97 per thousand cubic feet when selling natural gas. In many places (especially the northeastern part of the state) drillers are getting less than half of that. The difference between what drillers actually get and what Wolf pretends they get, plus the “little extra” 4.7 cents per Mcf added to the “5%” tax, pushes the effective rate, according to the PA Independent Fiscal Office, to 17.3% (see PA Official Admits Wolf Severance Tax Highest in Nation @ 17.3%). Wolf’s chief budget negotiator, John Hanger, has stooped to a new low, even for him, by saying Republicans have put drillers ahead of PA’s school children. Hanger presumes the money EARNED by companies that risk their own capital somehow belongs to life’s TAKERS–teachers’ unions. The question now is, will Wolf sign the Republican budget that is about to land on his desk without the big increase in “education funding” he demands because he promised it to union members who voted him into office (i.e., political payola)…

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