PA House Holds the Line – Passes Budget with No Severance Tax

Three cheers for Pennsylvania House Republicans. Hip hip, hooray! House Republicans did the near impossible–they held the line against a cockamamie plan to raise all sorts of taxes, including slapping a severance tax on the Marcellus gas industry (on top of the existing impact tax). You may recall our story about a group of hardworking Republican House members who, during the recent recess, did a masterful forensic accounting job of locating existing money sitting idle in a variety of programs and departments–money that can used to plug a deficit in the budget this year (see PA House Introduces Balanced Budget with NO Severance Tax). House members pulled a rabbit out of the hat by finding $2.4 billion in money laying around, unused in various accounts, that they plan to reallocate to the state budget. Yesterday the House voted. As always, battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy. The final version of the House budget plan passed yesterday includes a $1 billion loan from money the state is set to get in the future from the long-ago tobacco company settlement, an expansion of casino-style gambling, and “hundreds of millions” from the money House members found laying around, unused. The key is that there are no new taxes in the House budget plan. No severance tax. No gross receipts tax (on telephone, electricity and natural gas). Read my lips: No New Taxes. They did it! And they are to be applauded for it. Now the plan goes to the Senate where its future is less than certain. Gov. Wolf immediately blasted the House plan because it doesn’t include any new taxes…

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