Critics of Restore Pennsylvania plan say it relies on only one industry for funding

Opponents of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania initiative held a news conference Thursday to express their concerns that the plan would unfairly impact the state’s natural gas industry.

Among the speakers was Lancaster County Commissioner Dennis Stuckey.

“It’s a very ambitious and wide-ranging proposition that many municipal leaders would be interested in,” Stuckey said, but added that it appears the revenue for the plan would come from a single industry.

The news conference followed several visits to Lancaster County by the governor. Wolf was in Marietta earlier this month, his second trip to the county in less than a month.

Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania plan proposes implementing a severance tax on natural gas extracted in the state to fund infrastructure improvements including improving flood control, removing blight, mitigating lead paint and bringing high-speed internet to underserved areas.

Stuckey, along with Kevin Sunday, director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; Katy King of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce; Dan Weaver, president of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association; and Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, noted that the industry is already taxed through the state’s impact fee.

“We have the second highest corporate tax in the industry,” Sunday said.

Stuckey pointed out that Lancaster receives more than $8 million yearly from the impact fee, which has been used to support the county’s agricultural programs and fund improvements to many bridges.

He said he worries what would happen to that funding if a severance tax were implemented. Even if the impact fee remained, Stuckey said he would still be concerned about the impact on the industry.

“We are very much concerned that this is just an attempt to introduce a severance tax by any means necessary,” Stuckey said.