As president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, I agree with Gov. Tom Wolf’s position to prioritize job creation to help rebuild our economy. However, his proposal to fund workforce development with additional energy taxes is counterproductive — jeopardizing existing jobs and threatening our pandemic recovery (Feb. 9, editorial “Severance Tax Should Be on the Table”).
The governor’s plan would make Pennsylvania the nation’s highest energy-taxed state. In addition to all other taxes, Pennsylvania also imposes a special impact fee on the natural gas industry, which has generated nearly $2 billion for our state. What is unique about the impact fee is that most of the revenue is directed to communities for local needs. Washington County alone has received more than $150 million since the impact fee’s inception 10 years ago, and these resources are used to repair roads, build parks and fund other projects that improve our quality of life.
Across the state, support for natural gas development is strong and bipartisan as it is a steady source of good-paying jobs, local economic growth and critical tax revenue. The massive tax increase Mr. Wolf is proposing would be detrimental not only to the industry but also to the countless small businesses that depend on it, workers who derive their living from it, and consumers who benefit from the low-cost, reliable energy produced in our state.
Policy priorities should be focused on leveraging our clean energy resources for the betterment of our state, not overtaxing an industry that benefits everyone, whether they realize it or not.