Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Backwards Budget

Gov. Corbett has been in office approximately two months. For about the first six-weeks, we heard nary a peep from him. Then, he emerged to make his first budget address. And, what an address it was! Slash education spending. No pay raises for teachers. Cuts here, there, and everywhere. Oh, and by the way, the natural gas drillers don't have to pay a dime!

A columnist for the Patriot-News took Corbett to task not only for his policies but also for his word choice. You can read the column HERE.

I haven't spent any time crunching the numbers in the proposed budget. And, I think some of the targets of the cuts are overreacting to a certain degree (i.e. Penn State's president saying that the university might have to close some satellite campuses. Really? Close a campus? That seems a bit OTT to me).

However, my general feeling is one of agreement with those most affected: the proposed budget  seems to cut the very things that would do the most to ensure a prosperous future while doing very little to help us now.

Corbett's refusal to levy ANY kind of severance tax on the natural gas drilling industry strikes me as nonsensical. It's as though someone put a pile of essentially free money in front of him, but he said no and decided instead to take money from people who need every dime.

I don't get it. In many ways, the natural gas drilling industry is a captive audience. It's not like they can just go drill somewhere else if Pennsylvania decides to tax them in some way. The natural gas is here, not there.

Plus, it's not like any tax that Pennsylvania MIGHT levy would be prohibitive. The state wouldn't take ALL the profits. I don't know what a severance tax would be - one-percent? two-percent? five? ten? But, let's say it is 10% (which I feel is high. A quick search on the internet reveals that 5%-7% seems to be the going rate). So, for every dollar the drilling companies make, they get to keep 90 cents. As I said, it's not like they can go someplace else and get a better rate - or even find natural gas! So, tax them! Then, use the money to fix roads and bridges and invest in education.

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