In an interview Thursday with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R- Allegheny) said he opposes the idea of enacting a natural gas extraction tax as a way to balance the state budget.
Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office is projecting a $1.3 billion budget gap this year.
Turzai didn’t say whether he’d use his leadership post to block a proposal from being voted on in his GOP-controlled chamber.
A severance tax on gas extraction has support from all four Democratic candidates for governor and some members of Turzai’s caucus.
“It’s been painted as this panacea for every shortfall that is faced in Pennsylvania, but that is simply not the case,” Turzai said in a meeting with Tribune-Review editors and reporters.
Natural gas companies currently pay an impact fee for every well they drill. Over the past three years the fee has brought in, on average, about $210 million annually.
About $25 million stays at the state level and goes to agencies affected by the gas boom, like the Department of Environmental Protection. Most of the remaining money goes back to local governments hosting drilling operations. The rest is given out to communities around the state for environmental projects.
State legislators from both parties have introduced gas extraction tax bills this year. All the Democratic gubernatorial candidates are also pushing for a gas extraction tax, ranging from 5 to 10 percent.
Turzai told the Tribune-Review he thinks a 10 percent tax would shut down the industry.