Gov. Tom Wolf, some Harrisburg lawmakers, and government union leaders and lobbyists continue to demand higher taxes on working families. These include potential taxes on families' cable bills, homeowners' heat bills, restaurant patrons' bar tabs, and yet another tax on natural gas drillers.
This severance tax targets only gas drillers, who already pay an onerous impact fee – which functions like a 5% tax – plus all the high taxes every Pennsylvania business pays. With gas prices still depressed, this tax would generate minimal revenue and hinder job growth when the gas industry is already laying off workers.
In fact, since Gov. Wolf took office in January 2015, Pennsylvania's mining and logging sector has lost 15,400 jobs, a drop of more than 39%. Likely related to the decline in gas drilling, the state lost 22,400 manufacturing jobs (or 4%). Gov. Wolf’s proposed severance tax will only cripple an already hobbling industry.
Overall job growth has also suffered.
Since Gov. Wolf took office, Pennsylvania has added only 105,300 jobs, or 1.8%, far below the nearly 4% national growth. See this chart for a job growth breakdown.
Similarly, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has surpassed the national average for more than a year—5% to 4.3%. Only four states had a higher unemployment rate than Pennsylvania in May.
Pennsylvania also lags in economic growth as residents flee to other states. From 1991-2015, Pennsylvania ranked 46th in job growth, 45th in personal income growth, and 46th in population growth. Last year, Pennsylvania lost population for the first time in 31 years, with 45,000 residents migrating to other states.
This migration is especially pronounced among college-educated millennials. Pennsylvania lost a net 12,981 millennials to other states in 2015—that’s 36 college graduates leaving every day to find jobs elsewhere.
Why? Pennsylvania's high tax burden deserves much of the blame.
And it's important to remember: Gov. Wolf and state lawmakers increased taxes just last year.
Following the $650 million tax increase in July of 2016, the state economy slowed to a crawl, and nearly one hundred vape shops closed, and another budget deficit emerged. Will lawmakers and Gov. Wolf learn from past mistakes or will they perpetuate economy-harming tax increases? Pennsylvanians' jobs are on the line.