Restore PA Legislation Introduced; Issue Likely to Extend into Fall
From PA Chamber of Business & Industry
A severance tax initiative that was introduced by the Wolf administration in February and is opposed by the PA Chamber was formally introduced as legislation last week. Gov. Tom Wolf’s office issued a press release touting H.B. 1585 and S.B. 725 as a way to pay for numerous community projects throughout the Commonwealth that address infrastructure, blight, environmental cleanup and more. However, the plan calls for $4.5 billion in immediate taxpayer-funded borrowing that would be paid back over decades through another punitive tax on the state’s natural gas industry – a move that could result in gas companies slowing their growth or reducing their presence in Pennsylvania, costing jobs and billions of dollars in economic opportunity.
Furthermore, the state’s existing impact tax has already generated $1.7 billion, which has been allocated toward the same types of projects that Restore PA would fund. Rather than Harrisburg lawmakers determining how the money is best spent, the impact tax is distributed at the county level and has helped to fund important community projects in all 67 counties.
The PA Chamber is now in its fifth year of leading a coalition of broad-based and diverse advocacy groups against an ill-advised tax on the state’s burgeoning natural gas industry. Through the website, www.StopNewEnergyTaxes.com, we are leading the charge to keep the existing impact tax structure in place and highlighting the voices of various business and community stakeholders who recognize what Pennsylvania stands to gain by encouraging the industry to remain competitive.
Legislative leaders are also not keen to the concept of a targeted tax on the natural gas industry, with Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, telling Capitolwire last week that the issue will not be addressed as part of the budget negotiations this month and will likely be discussed in the fall while lawmakers consider alternative options to investing in the state’s infrastructure. “To me, this whole Restore PA thing is more about him [Wolf] getting a severance tax” than it is about infrastructure, Corman told the media outlet.
Corman also noted that the hotly discussed topic of whether to raise the minimum wage – another Wolf administration proposal that the PA Chamber stands opposed to for the negative impact it would have on the business community – will also very likely not be a part of the 2019-20 budget discussions