PA Taxes

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released the following statement from Director Marc Stier on the study, “Pennsylvania: A 21st Century Tax Code for the Commonwealth,” released today by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

In 2014, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S. and remains so today, behind only Texas.  In 2017, gas production exceeded 5.3 trillion cubic feet and continues to rise. Despite rising production, Pennsylvania remains the only major gas-producing state that allows companies to drill without paying taxes that increase with the volume of gas extracted. 

While the details are different, the basic theme of our analysis of the governor’s budget proposal this year is essentially unchanged from last year and the year before. Once again, Governor Wolf has presented another austere budget that, within the political limits of Harrisburg, makes progress on issues critical to Pennsylvanians. But because of those political limits – and through no fault of the governor – it does not make fast enough progress.

Gov. Tom Wolf presented his 2018-19 State Budget Proposal on February 6th, 2018.  The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will be posting analysis, infographics and related documents on this page as they become available. Check back often for the latest updates.

The budget plan released today by a group of Republican House members fails in the most important task before our state today: to resolve the long-term structural imbalance between expenditures and revenues. Even if every fund transfer proposed by the Republican back-benchers today were Constitutional and legal, and even if they had no impact on the commitments made by the General Assembly to provide funding for public purposes, this one-time transfer will provide almost no recurring revenues to support the state’s on-going commitments. Even if this proposal made sense, it leave us facing a deep deficit next year — one that would grow deeper every subsequent year.

Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with the support of outside advocates, are moving to announce plan to borrow massively, perhaps up to more than $2 billion, from many of the 100 or so special funds that, along with the General Fund, are part of the state budget. Their justification for doing so is that, at the end of each year, many of these funds have a surplus. So it seems easy enough to shift those surpluses – money they are quick to say is “just sitting there not doing anything” – into the General Fund.

As work on the 2017-18 budget continues, a bipartisan group of state legislators have become more vocal in their support of a severance tax on natural gas drillers. In response, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is putting on the full-court press.

In its recent letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, the Marcellus Shale Coalition points, in paragraph three, to the effective tax rate (ETR) on production as a key indicator of whether Pennsylvania should enact a severance tax in addition to the per-well impact fee we already have.

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