As Anthony mentioned the other day, the Feds' decision not to let Pennsylvania toll I-80 is going to have a severe impact on our state's ability to get transportation projects done, and, in a more general sense, just make the state even more broke than we thought it was.
The Governor has called a special session of the Legislature to figure this out. In an editorial today, the DN proposes a solution near and dear to our hearts: Revive the proposed gas extraction tax.
Rather than imposing more burdens on taxpayers, especially at the gas pump, we'd like to see some sacred corporate cows be milked for some of the budget shortfall. Natural-gas drillers, for example, should pay more for the privilege of extracting gas from the state. This "extraction tax" has already met with fierce resistance, but has the potential for raising $120 million in the first year.
Rendell wanted this tax to build up the bank in anticipation of federal stimulus money going away. But the extraction tax should move to front and center again in light of this budget hole. It's crazy to let highly profitable companies drill the state for free.
It's particularly crazy not to tax this industry when the Department of Environmental Protection Secretary is saying that drilling waste poses a "real threat" to the state's waterways, and is calling on new regulations to deal with it. New oversight will likely cost money -- money that the state doesn't have. And every other state with gas mining operations taxes them! It's crazy!