Gov. Tom Wolf wants to tax Pennsylvania’s natural gas drillers and have that money go to education. Republicans don’t. Wednesday’s negotiation session didn’t bring the two sides any closer.
Members of Wolf’s Cabinet met with Democratic and Republican leaders to discuss instituting a 5 percent severance tax plus 4.7 cents per thousand feet of volume on natural gas extraction. The Democratic governor has made the severance tax a centerpiece of his budget proposal.
Wolf’s Policy and Planning Sec. John Hanger said the governor proposed compromising on three aspects of his proposal.
First was removing a floor price for gas, second was to keep the impact fee on drillers unchanged and third was allowing companies to self-report how much money they receive from producing gas.
Hanger said that the Republicans’ counter offer was: zero.
Zero on a possible severance tax and zero on the governor’s three compromises.
“Those are three major changes to the governor’s proposal,” Hanger said. “Frankly, we were met by folks who only want to do theater and stand with the drillers against the school children of Pennsylvania.”
Republican leadership did not respond to a call for comment by 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The parties met for 45 minutes Wednesday. The negotiations ended, Hanger said, when the Republican leadership left the room.
Hanger said that the Republican leadership is “absolutely unwilling and unbending to negotiate a serious resolution to the budget”
Hanger said the governor has put three items on the table to compromise and he is still willing to compromise on those items.
“The governor came here as somebody who is not a career politician. He has negotiated business deals and in the business world you have good faith parties that come to the table and negotiate a deal,” Hanger said.
“What we’re encountering here are career politicians who are not interested in negotiating a deal. They are interested in playing to their ideological base and putting on a show… [The governor] is not going to be party to that kind of a sham.”Author: Christian AlexandersenPublication: PennLivehttp://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/06/no_compromise_negotiations_on.html