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.