The Post-Gazette’s Feb. 13 editorial “Paying Their Fair Share” calling for a severance tax perpetuates a trend among certain elected officials to go after specific industries for taxation in order to pay for more government spending. It’s important to note that the commonwealth is not “short on funds.” Year-to-date state revenue collections are currently $290 million above estimate. The proposed severance tax is simply another avenue for state officials to spend more.
The natural gas industry is already taxed through a competitive impact tax that has generated more than $1.5 billion. Impact tax collections for 2018 brought in a record amount and Pennsylvania is collecting more in impact tax revenues than Ohio, Colorado and West Virginia’s severance taxes combined.
While the PA Chamber agrees infrastructure development should be a priority, punitive energy taxes are not the best means to achieve this goal. We encourage policymakers to pursue pro-growth economic policies that will leverage our assets into greater opportunities for all Pennsylvanians. The Forge the Future economic analysis estimates this could mean more than 100,000 new jobs and billions in new state tax revenue as our energy and manufacturing sectors grow.
One of Pennsylvania’s greatest advantages is our affordable and accessible energy supply. We are at risk of losing this competitive edge if state elected officials continue to call for higher energy taxes as a way to spend more government money. They should also be aware that capital is fluid, and companies will move capital if they are not able to be profitable in a given location.
The writer is the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.