Update on Governor Wolf Marcellus Shale Budget Proposals

Date: March 9, 2015

The dust has settled over the past week on Governor Wolf’s first annual Pennsylvania Budget Proposal.  The battle lines have been drawn!

Faced with a two (2) billion dollar deficit, Governor Wolf held nothing sacred.  Increases in the state wage and sales tax are on the table.  Change to the Corporate Tax rate and loopholes is on the table.  Elimination of exempt businesses of all types from collecting sales tax is on the table.  And of course as promised, a five (5) percent natural gas severance tax is on the table.

It is the severance tax proposal that has drawn the most debate today.  Counties and residents hosting natural gas well sites are overwhelmingly against the new tax and are in favor of maintaining the original impact fee.  Counties who do not benefit at this time from impact fee collections are all in favor of a statewide severance tax with proceeds used to fund education throughout the Commonwealth.

Additionally, Governor Wolf proposed increasing the budget at DEP by millions of dollars.  This increase in funding will be used to pay for over fifty (50) new DEP inspectors to increase oversight and enforcement of Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites.  The industry is not pleased.

Finally, Governor Wolf placed a halt to new gas drilling in state forests and state game lands.  Although not really a big budget issue, this moratorium places great constraint on drillers involved in areas with great natural gas potential.

As once can imagine, the debate in Harrisburg over the Governor’s proposals is just heating up.  Between now and June it will be interesting to watch as things develop.  It seems that everything is subject to compromise as both parties work toward passing a balanced budget.  Should be some fireworks !!

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.