Governor Ed Rendell says he’s growing more optimistic that Pennsylvania House and Senate leaders can hammer out a compromise natural gas severance tax rate.
Rendell says he has a one-track mind, as the two-year legislative session winds down.
"I’m all shale all the time."
After a meeting with House and Senate leaders, the governor said talks had turned positive and both sides are warming to his proposed tax rate.
"And that phase in would have been at 3 percent, 4 percent and 5 percent. And then 5 percent subsequently thereafter. That is about 60 percent of what the original West Virginia tax is."
But top Senate Republican staffer Drew Crompton cautions the two sides are a long way from a deal, though.
"Was more progress made today than yesterday? Probably so. But it’s important for me to emphasize that we didn’t agree to a 3, 4, 5 rate. We have this 10 percent issue. We have other distribution issues that many have said will be more contentious than the rate."
The 10 percent issue refers to an exemption for the cost of getting gas from the well to the market. Senate Republicans want the entire cost deducted from a tax, but Rendell is pushing for a 10 percent maximum.
In order for the tax to become law, the House and Senate would need to add more session days in the three weeks before Election Day.