Statement: Pa. Should Not Spend Taxpayer Dollars to Subsidize New Markets for Natural Gas Producers
HARRISBURG, PA (April 17, 2013) -- Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, issued the following statement on Marcellus Works legislation (House Bills 301-309) that are before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives:
"Millions in Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars should not be spent to subsidize new markets for natural gas producers. New tax credits being considered in the House will cost $73.5 million next year, almost as much as the Governor has proposed in new basic education funding. Most Pennsylvanians would likely prefer to invest that money back into our children's schools and our local communities, rather than subsidizing energy giants.
"The law that established the state's natural gas drilling fee sets aside more than $20 million in fee revenues to support gas industry product development, setting a precedent that such investments should be funded by the industry, not taxpayers. The House legislation makes taxpayers foot the bill.
"Pennsylvania is a large producer of pork, mushrooms, and air products, and it is a dangerous precedent to suggest that the public is responsible for creating new markets for these products. If the gas industry is successful in securing these tax breaks, soon other industries will want the same treatment.
"The House wisely took out provisions that would have allowed the industry to participate in the distribution of taxpayer-funded credits. The legislation still politicizes the distribution of funds, however, by putting political appointees, rather than professional staff, in charge of decisions about which companies receive lucrative tax credits. This is a departure from current practice and raises a red flag, especially in light of recent information about pay-to-play practices at the Turnpike Commission. The Corbett administration should make clear that it will not participate in a structure that gives such a clear appearance of a conflict of interest."