ISSUE | SHALE-GAS TAX

Winning calculus for taxpayers, state budget

Regardless of gas prices, which will always fluctuate, a severance tax based on production suggested by Gov.-elect Tom Wolf will generate two to three times more revenue for Pennsylvania than the current impact fee in just the first year ("Gas industry: Say no to tax," Dec. 17). While a 5 percent severance tax might produce $800 million in revenue next year, that's still nearly three times the $270 million expected from the impact fee. As the value of gas production continues to increase, that difference and the tax's revenue will grow - reaching $1 billion within a few years.

A severance tax is a much better deal for state taxpayers contending with the environmental and social costs of drilling activity and a $2 billion state budget shortfall next year. It's time to join every other major gas-producing state and adopt a severance tax.

|Sharon Ward, director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Harrisburg