Senators offer alternative to governor’s Restore PA plan

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Sens. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Washington/Greene Counties) and Pat Stefano (R-Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland Counties) recently offered an alternative to Gov. Wolf’s Restore PA plan.

The plan would fund infrastructure projects similar to those funded by Restore PA using revenues generated by lifting the moratorium on non-surface disturbance natural gas drilling on state forest lands.

In his budget address, Wolf stated that his Restore PA initiative would be funded by a bond issue funded by a severance tax on natural gas drilling. The plan proposes projects related to infrastructure, brownfield cleanups, stormwater projects, flood prevention and blight remediation.

“We have an opportunity to fund all of the projects that Governor Wolf wants to complete without creating new taxes that will stifle investment, chase away new jobs and boost energy costs to consumers,” Bartolotta said. “The natural gas industry already pays higher taxes in the form of impact fees that have helped fund billions of dollars in projects throughout the state. We need to explore different options other than piling on taxes that will ultimately be passed on to ratepayers.”

Under the alternative plan, revenues generated from new gas leases on state forest land would go into a special fund managed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“This legislation represents a commonsense approach to best protect and utilize our natural resources without massive borrowing that could have a negative impact on job creators and consumers,” Stefano said. “Imposing job-killing taxes and long-term debt will only result in a step backward for our state’s economy and environment.”