Business and Labor Agree: Higher Energy Taxes Threaten Pa. Jobs

Governor Wolf’s latest proposal for even higher energy taxes would hurt jobs, slow growth, and make Pennsylvania less competitive for investment, the some of the Commonwealth business and labor leaders said recently.

IUOE Local 66 business manager Jim Kunz, Pa. Chamber of Business & Industry’s Gene Barr and Pa. Manufacturers’ Association’s Dave Taylor punched back this week on the governor’s proposed energy tax increase.

As Kunz wrote in the Observer-Reporter, polices to ban fracking and increase energy taxes “kill jobs” and stall opportunities for thousands of skilled Pennsylvania building trades members. Here are the highlights:

“After the shuttering of the steel industry and the subsequent decline of the manufacturing sector, we saw firsthand families struggle to make ends meet. Thousands left the state. But the development of our state’s resources in recent years has fueled a resurgence from Washington to Wilkes-Barre and across Pennsylvania. To keep this going, policymakers and communities need to embrace every opportunity to support continued energy production and infrastructure. …

“We need responsible policies that promote the development and safe transportation of our energy resources. That includes supporting new facilities like the Shell cracker plant near Monaca, which is projected to employ roughly 6,000-plus workers, and job-creating infrastructure expansion projects like the Mariner 2 and PennEast pipelines. It also means denying requests for fracking bans and saying no to a severance tax on local production, all of which would kill jobs.”

In addition to Kunz’ Observer-Reporter piece, Barr and Taylor joined PCN-TV this week to highlight the competitive policies Pennsylvania needs to attract jobs and move the Commonwealth forward.

In case you missed it, here’s part of the segment:

Gene Barr, PA Chamber of Business & Industry President & CEO: “The governor said he was making no broad-based tax increase. But he did – he proposed a severance tax again that does hit people. If you use natural gas in your and your business, if you use electricity, because a large amount is generated from natural gas, it’s a tax increase. …

“When you begin to send these signals, that you are willing to look at one industry and put not just one additional tax on with the impact tax… and then begin talking about a severance tax on top of the highest effective corporate net income tax rate in the United States, that sends a very negative signal [to investors]. …

“We have to look at those things for the reality that they are. They are higher taxes, they inhibit that advantage of affordable, accessible natural gas that allows us to rebuild the manufacturing that we want to bring back to this commonwealth. …

“Putting an additional tax on natural gas is a tremendous mistake.”

David Taylor, PA Manufacturers’ Association President & CEO: “The whole thing is just nonsense on stilts. And there’s an enormous opportunity cost that goes into Pennsylvania having this very wrong-headed conversation over and over again when what we need to be focused is how do we leverage this advantage to help Pennsylvania’s economy. …

It’s not about whether we have one kind of tax or another, it’s about the overall cost of doing business in one jurisdiction versus another.”

Pennsylvania’s trades unions and job-creators agree: Gov. Wolf’s higher energy taxes will harm – not help – the Commonwealth.