Marcellus Minutes is a subscription-based newsletter sent to all subscribers registered through the Marcellus Minutes website that contains information on legislation including bill tracking, committee hearings and news from the Capitol in Harrisburg. Access to the website is free and provided to those directly involved and those with an interest in Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry.

Scaled-down shale tax in Pa. could spur deal on pensions, liquor privatization

With potential for government gridlock growing, lobbyists and lawmakers see a scaled-down version of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 5 percent natural gas severance tax as the way to reach a deal on pension and liquor reforms sought by Republicans.

“It has to be,” said Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Philadelphia. It’s a “pain-free” way to raise money for a strapped budget and for public schools, he said.

“It may be part of the political compromise needed to meet in the middle,” said Matthew Brouillette, president of the libertarian-leaning Commonwealth Foundation.

But any compromise between the Democratic governor and GOP legislative leaders appears a long way off.

Republicans insist on legislation to curb the cost of public pensions and to privatize the state-controlled liquor system, ideas the governor opposes. Wolf campaigned for a Marcellus shale-gas severance tax to restore $1 billion he claims was cut in education funding during the previous administration.

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