PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Governor Tom Corbett is standing by his position against taxing Marcellus Shale drilling.
He has been criticized statewide for his stance, but he says the industry can help revive the state’s struggling economy.
Critics say tax revenue from drilling could offset a $4.2 billion state budget deficit.
“No. 1, the companies, the industry is already paying taxes just like any other business pays taxes,” Corbett said. “No. 2, it would be a tax on one industry for one reason they are making money and because we have a hole in the budget.”
Corbett believes the most the state would get from taxing natural gas drilling is $200 million – way short of the deficit.
The budget shortfall is hitting all state-funded programs hard, especially school districts. Many are considering teacher layoffs and eliminating programs due to a $550 million cut in funding.
Some of the poorer districts would lose up to $600 per student. Corbett blames cuts in federal money, but says he’s willing to look at a system where some districts have so much and others so little.
“We have a funding formula that I think we need to look at in the future as to how we do that in the next budget cycle we can do that as soon as we get this budget passed,” Corbett said.
Corbett admits Pennsylvania and some of its school districts could face some tough financial times over the next few years.
As for the natural gas companies, it wasn’t all friendly. He left them with a stern warning that failure to protect the water and the environment could result in tough prosecution.