Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Allegheny County Executive and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato says he’s skeptical a natural gas severance tax will be signed into law before the next governor takes office. Onorato has been using the severance tax as a campaign issue, promising to direct revenue to environmental causes and local communities, if elected. His opponent, Republican Tom Corbett, has come out against the tax. Reminded that legislative leaders have promised to pass a tax into law by October 1, making the levy a non-issue for the next governor, Onorato said he doubts the General Assembly will reach its goal. “I’m skeptical of seeing a vote on a severance tax thirty days before an election,” says Onorato, “If they do it, I think it’s great. Even if they do do it, you can always revisit how you can spend the money as a new governor.” House Speaker Keith McCall and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi maintain both parties are serious about the self-imposed October 1 deadline. McCall’s spokesperson, Bob Caton, says, “Everybody’s aware it’s coming. It’s hardly a shock. It was part of the budget bill, with a hard deadline put into the budget bill. We’re pretty sure the work’s going to get done, and the discussions are going to be ongoing.” Governor Rendell is pushing for at least 70 million dollars of severance tax revenue to go into the general fund, to help fill a deficit in this year’s budget. A group of conservative Republican house and senate members have come out against the tax and at least one Democrat has said he prefers to leave the issue for the next governor.