Victory for Republican candidate Tom Corbett in the race for governor of Pennsylvania and a Republican-led legislature may be the death knell for a natural gas severance tax in the state -- or not.
Skeptics point out that political candidates don't necessarily hold to the same views once they become elected officials. In that case, Corbett's "no new taxes" campaign theme may not actually mean there won't be any new taxes. The state faces a huge and growing deficit in the coming years, which one way or another will have to be overcome.
Philadelphia Inquirer political columnist John Baer pointed out in a Wednesday column that every Pennsylvania governor in the last 40 years -- Republican and Democrat alike -- has raised taxes. And even U.S. presidents have had a hard time following through; witness George H.W. Bush's famous "Read my lips" pledge of no new taxes" falling by the wayside.
There are a number of ways the state could choose to raise funds through taxes, and a severance tax is only one of those. Regardless, both houses of the new legislature will be led by Republicans, so business interests, including those of the oil and gas industry, can be expected to get more favorable treatment, and possibly some of the concessions they fought unsuccessfully for this year.
Also, the new line-up will likely include a Corbett-appointed secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, replacing Gov. Ed Rendell's appointee, John Hanger.