When Republican Governor Tom Corbett announced Pennsylvania had won a three-state bidding war to host a new Shell ethane cracker, a reporter asked about the possibility of future tax breaks for the company. “We would be open to considering just about anything,” Corbett responded. “Because the number one thing I’m looking at is getting jobs for the people of western PA.”
According to a new report from Capitolwire, “anything” now includes an additional $1.7 billion tax break for the company. That’s on top of the exemptions and development money that two laws passed earlier this year are already steering toward Shell:
UPDATE: For more on legislative reaction to Corbett’s proposal, click here.
[Corbett's] team is preparing to negotiate in the tax bill that will be a bridesmaid to this year’s budget to give Shell a $67 million annual tax credit, starting in 2017, for 25 years. And, typically, the governor is being secretive about it. He is trying to give away that much taxpayer money without telling anyone until the little-read and arcane tax code bill is enacted later this month.
In other words, over a quarter-century, Pennsylvania taxpayers will be giving Shell close to $1.7 billion in tax credits to bring its ballyhooed ethane cracker plant and its jobs to Pennsylvania. Counting cracker-centric businesses, that could be 10,000 to 20,000 jobs, according to Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development Secretary Alan Walker. That is taxpayers paying $6,700 per worker at the plant, or half that sum if the jobs created hit 20,000.
And here’s the best part: the ethane cracker plant, the economic development jewel Corbett and his team won in a furious competition with other states, is in a tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zone.