Could Gas Go the Way of Foxconn?

One company’s decision not to locate in Pennsylvania foreshadows the migration in capital and jobs the commonwealth would suffer under a higher gas tax.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker noted Pennsylvania’s failure to attract manufacturing jobs in an interview on Fox Business News about Foxconn’s plans to locate a $10 billion manufacturing plant and 13,000 jobs in the Badger State.

“Pennsylvania they (Foxconn) backed away from because the governor changed,” Gov. Walker said. The new Pennsylvania governor would have been Tom Wolf, whose tax-and-spend obsession apparently was anticipated by the Taiwanese company.

Unfortunately, a higher natural gas tax wouldn’t just prevent future investment, but kill existing jobs.   

A report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute places Pennsylvania behind only Texas, California and Oklahoma for total employment (322,600 jobs) from the oil and natural gas industry in 2015. Income from the industry was reported as $22.9 billion — more than five percent of the state total. The estimated value added to Pennsylvania’s economy is $44.5 billion.

Direct employment and income, which discounts the many small businesses that service the large drilling companies, totaled 106,200 jobs and $10.2 billion, respectively, ranking the state fifth after Louisiana and the four already mentioned.

Politicians sympathizing with Gov. Wolf’s push for a severance tax on gas ought to consider how they will be remembered if an industry already generating billions of dollars for the Keystone State “backs away” because of higher taxes.