In advancing Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal for a severance tax on natural gas production (“Marcellus Shale drillers should pay their fair share”, April 15), state Rep. Mike Hanna repeats two fallacies: 1. that gas companies aren’t paying their “fair share” and 2. that more money will solve the issue of funding public education.
First, gas companies — and other businesses — are paying plenty. Of the 13 top gas-producing states, Pennsylvania has the highest corporate income tax rate (9.99 percent) and ranks 10th nationally for the highest state and local tax burden (10.3 percent) as a percentage of state income.
As for school funding, Pennsylvania spent a record $27 billion on education last fiscal year. Education’s difficulties stem not from a lack of money but from a broken system that allocated in 2012-15 more than $10,000 in state aid per student to 25 districts while giving 50 districts less than $3,000 per student.
There are proposals to inject common sense into school funding. Increasing taxes on gas producers is not among them.
The natural gas industry has helped revive the state’s economy with hundreds of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in energy savings while operating in one of the most heavily taxed states. We can expect more of the same if only irrational public policy doesn’t depress the business as speculation about a severance tax already has to some extent.
The writer is a senior fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation.