By Jon Delano

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BRIDGEVILLE (KDKA) — Governor Tom Wolf toured Bridgeville on Thursday afternoon, which, like many local communities, was flooded last year.

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“We actually had a car, vertical, stuck up against the bridge, plus a lot of dumpsters and then many trees,” one man described the scene to the governor.

In a meeting with local officials, Wolf said the state had few ways to help except through Federal disaster assistance.

“The best we can do in Pennsylvania right now is to say if you reach the threshold that the Federal government has for disaster relief, which is $18 million, $19 million, and we can do our best as a state help get to that level,” Wolf said. “If we don’t reach that, we don’t qualify for Federal disaster relief.”

So the governor has proposed a plan to create a special fund to help flood victims and those communities with other infrastructure needs by imposing a severance tax on natural gas drilling in the state.

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“Here in Pennsylvania, let’s create a pool of resources for boroughs like Bridgeville, for homeowners in places like Bridgeville, in Bradford County, in Schuylkill County, in York County, all over the commonwealth,” Wolf said.

To pay for this, Wolf says the state should tax natural gas drilling just like Texas and all other states do.

“We’re the only natural gas producing state in the country that doesn’t have a severance tax,” Wolf said. “As you know the severance tax is exportable. We pay the severance tax to Texas, Louisiana, whenever we fill up our tanks with gasoline.”

The governor says his tax would yield about $300 million a year, which over 20 years would be $4.5 billion.

“What if we had a pool of real money, and $4.5 billion is a lot of money, that we could raise from this tax that actually would be paid mostly by non-Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said.

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But no matter who pays, so far, the legislature has been cool to the idea.