It's no secret that former Gov. Ed Rendell disagrees with now Gov. Tom Corbett on how to tax natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. But people at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's fifth anniversary fund-raiser Friday afternoon were surprised to see just how far Rendell would go to make that point.
Rendell, sporting what can only be called a "Moe" wig in the style of the one-time Three Stooges actor, explained that PBPC Director Sharon Ward did a presentation in December 2008 on state revenue. It included pictures of six governors from different states. Rendell was one of them. The presentation asked "What do these governors have that Ed Rendell doesn't."
The answer was what Ward calls "robust taxes on natural gas." But Ward added what Rendell called "a gratuitous shot" in the presentation, that the answer could also be hair. The governors, who included then West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, then Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, did indeed all have hair. Rendell? Not so much.
Rendell, who failed to get his proposal for a natural gas excise tax through the General Assembly, on Friday said it would have produced more than $2 billion in additional taxes for Pennsylvania that could have been used to fund education and other state issues.
Rendell told the crowd they should not be angry with Corbett, who has only followed through on promises he made when campaigning in 2010 for governor. Instead, he urged the crowd to work on the General Assembly to sway the votes of members there.
He offered a quick tutorial in democracy, asking the crowd to vote on whether he should continue the speech while wearing the wig. The crowd voted overwhelmingly for him to take it off.
"I will totally forgive you if you get the legislature to vote for a tax for education," Rendell told Ward.