(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)
JB: Looks like the no tax/no fees Guv is leaning toward an impact fee on those Marcellus Shale drillers.
BE: Wait, I thought he campaigned on no taxes, no fees.
JB: You thought right, oh, wise thinker. In fact during a candidates' debate in Pittsburgh (moderated by yours truly), Corbett expanded his no-tax pledge to include fees. Here's a reminder.
BE: And, if I recall correctly, no-tax guru Grover Norquist, whose no-tax pledge Corbett signed, says an impact fee is a tax.
JB: Your recall skills are as solid as your thinking, boss. How do you do it? Norquist, when asked about a shale-drilling impact fee in May said, "Make no mistake, this proposal is a tax increase based on any honest and objective analysis." Here's a reminder.
BE: And now?
JB: Yesterday, the Guv told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in an exclusive interview, that using money from a proposed impact fee to cap and seal abandoned wells across the state makes sense.
BE: This is new, yes?
JB: Yes. And it brought an immediate response from Senate President Joe Scarnati who's pushing an impact fee. He called it a "major breakthrough."
BE: But how does the Guv get around his pledge?
JB: My guess is he argues the pledge was aimed at not putting new money from taxes or fees into the General Fund, and that a fee directed at a specific enviornmental concern is in the best interest of all citizens.
BE: Seems like a good guess.
JB: He also told the Trib-Review he'd like to see money from the sale of the State Stores go into transportation needs. Legislation is pending on such a sale and on an impact fee and both issues await the legislature's return next month.
BE: But I'm still confused. When is a fee not a tax and when is a tax not a fee?
JB: Depends upon what the meaning of the word "is" is. Here's a reminder. Grrrr.