Taxpayers deserve more for our resources
Did you know that Pennsylvania is the second leading producer of natural gas in the U.S.? Or that Texans pay no state income tax?
Oil rich Alaska issues its residents royalty checks each year.
Our elected officials have a different approach. Although Pennsylvania ranks 38th in fiscal health (Texas is 12th), they cut a deal with the energy companies favoring them over taxpayers. We are the only major gas-producing state to charge no severance tax on the volume of gas removed.
Opponents of the tax argue that drillers pay an impact fee. Actually, this fee brings in far less money than the tax would raise.
They say that fracking has lowered natural gas prices and created jobs. Neither of these facts are relevant to the argument of how much we should be paid for the gas.
In fact, the number of jobs created is far fewer than originally promised, and we still pay a higher residential price for gas than 32 other states. Once all of the refineries are online and much of the gas is used for making plastic, the recent surplus will go down and everyone’s prices will go up.
The most ludicrous argument is that the drillers would leave if taxed. The gas is here. It is a valuable resource they want. They haven’t left other states that charge a severance tax.
A severance tax is estimated to bring in $1.7 billion over five years. Alaska’s oil income supplements its general fund. Texas divides its energy income between infrastructure, education and its “Rainy Day Fund.”
Our “Rainy Day Fund” is low. We have a huge deficit. Our unfunded liabilities are looming.
Will our legislators raise our personal taxes to pay our debts or strike a better deal with the energy companies as in Texas and Alaska?
Barbara A. Tessin