Latest PA Budget Bill Drops Fix for Slow DEP Permit Reviews

In an issue that’s growing old, fast, the Pennsylvania legislature has still not dragged the dead horse known as the 2017 state budget across the finish line. It all started months ago when the Republican-led legislature passed a $32 billion budget–with only $30 billion available to pay for it. Big mistake. The pressure was intense to pass a severance tax to help fill the gap. Traitorous Republicans in the Senate caved to that pressure and in July passed a budget bill that hikes taxes on lots of things, including a severance tax (see Traitorous PA Senate Republicans Pass Severance Tax Bill). As part of that misguided and mangled budget bill, Senate Republicans slipped in fixes to the state Dept. of Environmental Protection’s chronic delays in issuing permits related to shale drilling (see PA Senate’s “Olive Branch” of “Relaxed Regulations” for Drillers). As we said at the time, the writing was already on the wall–Democrats would lobby to remove the DEP fix and leave the severance tax. The DEP fix (surprisingly) continued in further revisions to the budget plan–until yesterday, when the DEP fixes came out. Fortunately there is still no severance tax. However, Republicans have floated a plan to nearly double the tax on hotel/motel rooms. Such a tax would make Philadelphia’s hotel tax a staggering 21.25%, the highest in the nation! Gov. Tom Wolf is (so far) not commenting on the hotel tax idea–he still wants a severance tax and said so yesterday. So although a severance tax appears dead, and we think it’s 99% dead, it’s not yet 100% dead–so we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to kill it. And although the fixes to the DEP would be most welcomed, they won’t happen as part of the budget. There’s still some hope those fixes will happen apart from the budget bill. Here’s the latest word on PA budget negotiations…

Please Login to view this content. (Not a member? Join Today!)
You do not have permission to view the comments.

Please Login to post a comment