Like Gov. Ed Rendell, PennFuture today held a whining session (were they at the same one?) about the Senate’s “failure” to pass a severance tax on natural gas drilling. But as the Post-Gazette reports, it’s not that the Senate has not agreed to a tax:
“We discussed options” for a tax, including the West Virginia model, which has a 5 percent tax on the sale price of the gas extracted from the underground shale, along with another levy of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet (MCF) of gas, the governor said.
Mr. Rendell likes that idea, but House Democrats recently passed bill that would impose a tax of 39 cents per MCF, which critics have complained is far too high and could cost Pennsylvania jobs.
A third option is that favored by Senate Republicans, similar to the one in Arkansas — 1.5 percent on the market value of the gas for up to five years, with the rate then increasing somewhat….
Mr. Rendell wants revenue from a shale tax to protect the environment from damage from drilling accidents, to help towns where drilling is happening fix their roads and to help fill a $282 million hole in the state budget.
As Nate said earlier, the governor and House Democrats want more severance tax funds to keep them from having to make their own tough decisions about the state budget, while maintaining a healthy pot of “Green” pork funds to dish out. PennFuture likes that idea too, because it provides them a source of money to pursue for both the alternative energy companies they lobby for (in a laundering sort of way) as well as for their own use. PennFuture predictably rants today:
“Senator Joseph Scarnati and the other Republican leaders are trying to have it both ways,” said Jan Jarrett, PennFuture’s president and CEO. “They claim they are working to pass a severance tax, but using every excuse they can think of why they can’t. Now they’re claiming the severance tax bill passed by the House cannot be used because of constitutional problems. But they have several legislative options they could use to get this done.”
So are Jarrett or Rendell (and the media carrying their water) applying any pressure to House Democratic leadership to scale back their gas tax expectations to something close to what the Senate Republicans have said they will accept? Of course not, since that would mean a lot less rancid Green pork for themselves.