Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sen. Stack: Expand Games of Chance Not Shale Tax

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is urging the state legislature to take action this fall on his proposal to impose a new Marcellus Shale gas extraction tax to help close a $280 million budget gap. The governor is also calling for a 1.9% cut in discretionary spending as part of his plan. Republicans have come out against the proposal saying no new or expanded taxes should be added to the state budget. Democrat Mike Stack of Philadelphia is not ruling out the idea of a severance tax but he says now is not the time to impose it. Stack says lawmakers should hold off on any action until a new governor takes office next year. Stack also says the state needs to be very careful with any tax policy involving the young but growing industry. He says there needs to be a great deal of debate, discussion and deliberation on the mater.

Rendell says if the state legislature acts this fall on a natural gas extraction tax, it could generate about $70 million by the end of the fiscal year. Stack says he knows a better way to find the additional funds. The Democrat says the legislature should take action this fall on his legislation that expands the state’s Small Games of Chance Law to include taverns. He says about $100 million a year in tax revenue could be generated for the state, and a percentage of the funds raised at taverns would go to charitable organizations under his proposal. The legislation would also increase the weekly payout limits for private clubs and organizations. “That would help them generate funds for their operations and charitable programs,” says Stack. That bill is currently before the Senate Finance Committee.

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