PA Republicans Murt & DiGirolamo Oppose Corbett’s Paltry Impact Fee, Propose 4.9% Gas Tax

UPDATE: November 13, 2011: Supporters of DiGirolamo’s amendment to the widely debated HB1950 are set to begin running a Radio Ad tomorrow.

Drilling Tax vs. Impact Fee

Reps. Gene DiGirolamo (R-18th District, Bucks) and Tom Murt (R-152nd District, Montgomery/Philadelphia) are a great example of democracy at work. Last week, as Pennsylvania Senate pro tempore, Joe Scarnati (R-25th District) deleted much of the impact fee language from his bill, SB1100, these two Republicans saw their star on the rise. DiGirolamo, who is known to advocate for seniors, and Murt, whose Child Labor Bill passed the House earlier this year, are proposing HB 1863 – a healthy, widely distributed tax on Marcellus Shale drilling. Make no mistake, the gentlemen from Southeastern PA are breaking with Republican party leadership on this issue as they valiantly attempt to fill the common sense void in Harrisburg. 

Governor Tom Corbett favors a minimal, county-specific Impact Fee which, I believe, amounts to about 1% in revenue for the state. When it comes to taxing Marcellus Shale Gas, Corbett is zealously upholding the Grover Norquist No-Tax torch, and at considerable cost to Pennsylvanians. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center estimates that Pennsylvania lost over $250,000,000 in revenue in 2010 alone. You can view their online ticker of what the drilling tax delay is currently costing our state.

According to a joint press release issued by Reps. Murt and DiGirolamo, “The tax – to be set at 4.9 percent – is estimated to generate $362 million during the 2012-13 fiscal year and rise to $562 million annually within five years. This rate is lower than neighboring West Virginia, where the industry is also thriving.” And, unlike our governor and his environmentally ineffectual DEP, these two guys recognize that Marcellus Shale Development brings heavy “social and environmental costs and impacts” and the need for “long-term investments in natural resources and environmental programs, along with the economy and human capital.” They also state that a tax would “strengthen the Commonwealth’s safety net for times of need; and it makes sure every citizens can benefit from development in the Marcellus Shale.”  [Source: genedigirolamo.com]

Public opinion polls consistently show that nearly 70% of Pennsylvania voters support a tax on the gas drillers, according to PennFuture

While the proposed tax may make Murt and DiGirolamo unpopular with the Tea Party-infused element of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, it’s distinctly possible that the more traditional members of our state’s GOP will listen to their constituents and get on board. Surely, there are more state Republicans who recognize that we can’t afford to be anything but moderate on drilling taxes right now? PA’s GOP has been around, and viable, a lot longer than the Tea Party. Do we dare hope for a little push-back from the Old Guard?

Once upon a time in the eighties, I was a registered Republican. I lived in a deeply entrenched Republican district, and I wanted my vote to count. My reasoning was that when it comes to key issues, primaries are where the action’s at. Registering as a Republican enabled me to vote in Pennsylvania’s primaries, which are limited to political party. I eventually changed my affiliation, long before Arlen Spector made it trendy, but still I wonder, has the Tea Party hijacked the Republican Party of my youth? I’m a registered Democrat now but, I freely admit, the fiscally conservative, low-tax-loving part of me lives on. It’s just that 4.9% seems low enough. It’s certainly hasn’t hampered the gas industry in other Marcellus Shale states. Murt and DiGirolamo are currently seeking co-sponsors for their bill, and I can’t help but hold out hope that other majority party leaders might pick up this more fair and reasonable torch instead.

Can’t wait to see which mavericks sign on.

To tell your legislators to get on board with the drilling tax proposal, visit PennFuture.org

SAY NO to SB1100/HB1950: SIGN CHANGE.ORG PETITION

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