Two more natural gas severance tax plans have surfaced from state lawmakers, and both are proclaiming proudly that they offset the revenue they raise.
That means they're kosher for Grover Norquist: by balancing their new levy with a decrease to some other state tax, the plans sail through the loophole in the Americans for Tax reform pledge against tax hikes.
While they share that general approach, they get to that goal in different ways. Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-Delaware, is proposing a 3 percent levy on gas drillers, which would rise to 5 percent in the third year. That estimated $1.1 billion raised by 2015 would be balanced out with a decrease to the personal income tax rate, dropping it from the current 3.07 percent down to 2.99 percent.
"We certainly need to compensate the citizens of Pennsylvania for their resource," Miccarelli said.
He argued that his plans is the only current proposal that can garner support from the Legislature and the governor, who has signed the ATR pledge.
Another proposal circulating today was more surprising: Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, is proposing a "reasonable and competitive" tax on drillers - in exchange for freezing school property taxes for those over 65.
The drilling impact fee legislation in that chamber was introduced by Pileggi's fellow caucus leader, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. Noting the competitiveness of the two proposals, Pileggi wrote in his memo seeking co-sponsors that "does not address the issue of the Marcellus Shale industry's impact on the environment and local communities," and that he "support[s] Sen. Scarnati's approach in that regard, implementing a fee to cover the cost of these impacts."