Schwartz proposes financing Pa. transit projects with severance tax on natural gas

    The candidate widely regarded as the front-runner in the Democratic race for Pennsylvania governor has a growing list of items a severance tax on natural gas could buy.

    Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz wants to set up a fund to help finance what she thinks of as visionary transportation projects — passenger rail in Scranton; expanding subway lines in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; and developing Erie’s port.

    The 5 percent tax she has proposed would be in addition to an impact fee already levied on gas drillers.

    Schwartz anticipates it would raise more than $600 million in its first year.

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    So far, she has earmarked that money for early education, basic education and, now, transportation.

    “How we use those dollars, how we divide those dollars, is detail we would get into over time,” she said Wednesday.

    Former Gov. Ed Rendell tried in vain to enact such a tax, and Gov. Tom Corbett has been against the approach.

    Asked why she thinks she could enact such a tax now, assuming the Legislature stays in Republican hands, Schwartz noted that four years have gone by and the pressure is on for infrastructure investment.

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