Pa. Senate cold on a House bill for natural gas severance tax

    The Pennsylvania House passed a severance tax bill for natural gas Wednesday, but the Senate Republican leadership says it’s not likely to consider the House version. Among the complaints, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says the rate of 39-cents per 1000 cubic feet of gas is too high.

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a natural-gas severance tax, but the Senate’s top Republican is throwing cold water on the bill’s chances in the upper chamber.

    The bill passed by a 104-94 margin in the state House.

    92 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted for the measure, which sets a 39-cent tax on every thousand cubic feet of gas drilled.

    The first $70 million of revenue would go into the General Fund, along with four of every ten dollars after that.

    Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says that’s too much.

    “You know, from the beginning I said this isn’t about balancing the General Fund or raising revenues for the General Fund,” he says. “This is about environmental issues, it’s about safety, and it’s about returning money back for impact to the local municipalities and counties.”

    Scarnati says the rate is also too high.

    He says the Senate will not consider the House’s measure, but he and other leaders are willing to “negotiate in good faith,” and could send a different severance tax back to the House in October.

    House Democratic leaders say they’ll begin negotiating with Scarnati and other Senate leaders today. They say they’re willing to compromise, and the rate and revenue distribution are both on the table.

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