To Tax or Not to Tax....

Marcellus Shale Blog

3/11/2011 5:49 AM

That really is the question, now that Gov. Tom Corbett has officially released a budget that includes drastic cuts to things such as public and higher education, and will likely result in major changes to the state’s Cooperative Extension system.
What was not included in his budget, and it really comes as no surprise if you were following the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, was any mention of a possible severance tax on Marcellus Shale wells.
This has rankled many.
I combed through many news websites this week, trying to get a feel for what people think of the budget. Reading the comments on sites such as (website for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News) as well as (website for The Patriot News), people are not pleased.
One reader on went so far as to call Gov. Corbett, “GOVERNER TERRIBLE TOMMY MARCELLUS,” in all caps. 
A recent meeting on Marcellus Shale taxation at Bucknell University, which was covered by one of our correspondents, Lisa Leighton, drew more than 100 people.
Sen. Gene Yaw, a Republican, and Rep. Rick Mirabito, a Democrat, both of whom represent areas of northern Pennsylvania where Marcellus Shale drilling is booming, were at the meeting and offered opposing views of the subject.
Yaw is against a tax, stating among other things that companies already pay their fair share in corporate and local taxes. According to Yaw, natural gas companies paid “over a billion dollars” in taxes in 2010, much of it because of the state’s high corporate tax structure.
Mirabito, on the other hand, thinks natural gas companies should fork over more, considering Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that does not impose a natural gas severance tax and that the costs of drilling would be passed down to local taxpayers.
Whose side was the crowd on? Clearly not the gas companies. 
Here is a snippet of what transpired at the meeting: “Yaw was barely able to speak for two minutes before members of the audience interrupted with jeers, and had to be asked by Bucknell’s moderator to remain civil.”
A recent poll taken by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which was cited in Leighton’s article, showed 63 percent of Pennsylvanians supported some sort of Marcellus Shale tax.
Now with a budget that is asking everyone to sacrifice, it will be interesting to see just how long the governor can go without asking gas companies to chip in a little more.
What do you think? Share your thoughts.
Chris Torres

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