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Tom Corbett’s choice: an extraction tax or funding for schools?
In recent days, there’s been increased discussion about whether Pennsylvania will at long last impose an extraction tax on natural gas as the commonwealth again faces massive budget deficit under Tom Corbett.  According to the Associated Press, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Jake Corman stated that “if there’s a $500 million-plus [budget] hole to fill, I don’t know that people are going to want to go into the budget and peel away education spending. Then an extraction tax becomes a more serious discussion than it has in the past.” [Associated Press, 4/19/14]
With even senior Republicans talking about removing Pennsylvania’s stigma as the only gas producing state in the country to not impose an extraction tax — and Republican candidates openly backing one, along with the majority of Pennsylvanians — the question becomes, will Tom Corbett sign one?
While Corbett has shown a remarkable willingness to reverse himself for political gain as he faces a difficult re-election bid this fall, one thing he has remained consistent about is not asking gas companies to pay their fair share.  During Corbett’s tenure, Pennsylvania could have collected almost a billion dollars in revenue that could help support education funding, jobs programs, or other initiatives that would help grow the middle class in Pennsylvania.  Corbett has received almost $3.4 million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry to date.
 
So the question is not whether an extraction tax makes sense or is good for Pennsylvania, but rather if the Legislature passed an extraction tax to plug a hole in Corbett’s budget, will Corbett veto it?  If he does, he is choosing the interests of his donors over the education of Pennsylvania’s children.
BACKGROUND

Tom Corbett Has Received Almost $3.4 Million in Campaign Donations From Oil And Gas Companies.

  • Tom Corbett For Governor Through The End Of 2013: $1,688,660

  • RGA Pennsylvania 2014 PAC 2013 Finance Report: $229,911

  • Tom Corbett For Governor 2014 Cycle 1 Report: $160,750

  • RGA Pennsylvania 2014 PAC Cycle 1 Finance Report: $1,302,755


Study Shows Pennsylvania Has The Lowest Tax Rate For Drillers Compared To Other Gas Producing States. According to a report released by the Independent Fiscal Office, “The analysis finds that the total effective tax rate (state and local) fora  new Pennsylvania well is the lowest among comparison states.” [IFO Study, 3/20/14]


Fair Natural Gas Tax Could Have Produced Almost A Billion Dollars In Revenue For Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, “From July 2009 to June 2012, over $8 billion worth of natural gas was extracted from Pennsylvania’s share of the Marcellus Shale. The Commonwealth would have collected $538 million had we had West Virginia’s natural gas tax in place.” Additionally, the Morning Call reported, “The record-high 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas uncorked from Pennsylvania’s 4,904 wells in 2013 would have generated about $425 million for the 2013-14 budget if the Legislature had copied West Virginia’s gas policies, The Morning Call found after analyzing records of the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s because severance tax revenue fluctuates with production, meaning the more gas that’s extracted, the more money that goes to the state.” [Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 9/11/12; Morning Call, 2/22/14]

 

By  2019-20, a 4% Severance Tax Could Produce $1.2 Billion Annually. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, “Using a moderate estimate of new wells and energy price forecasts produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) estimates that in 2019-20 a 4% natural gas severance tax could generate $1.2 billion annually, three times as much as the $382 million that would be generated under the current impact fee.” [Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 6/18/13]

 

Corbett Attempts To Give Oil And Gas Companies Unfettered Access To Drilling, Even In Residential Zones. According to the Morning Call, “In a victory for local zoning laws, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court declared major pieces of Act 13, the state’s oil and gas law, unconstitutional. In a 4-2 vote, the court upheld much of the decision of the Commonwealth Court. That court struck down Act 13’s most powerful tool for gas drillers — a provision that gave them almost unfettered access to drill, even in residential zones….The thrust of the argument against Act 13 was that it allowed a single industry to supersede all local zoning control.” The Corbett administration is currently challenging the Supreme Court’s decision. [Morning Call, 12/19/13, StateImpact, 1/3/14]


Corbett Builds Revenue From Drilling In State Forests Into His 2014-2015 Budget. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Gov. Tom Corbett wants to end a three-year ban on new leases for natural gas drilling beneath state forests to be able to raise $75 million, a proposal in his budget on Tuesday that angers some critics who say it endangers sensitive wilderness. Corbett wants the state to sign new leases for drilling beneath state forests and parks to help balance his $29.4 billion spending plan. He would undo a moratorium passed by his predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell, but would not allow the work to impact surface land, staffers said. Natural gas wells would reach deposits under parks and forests through horizontal drilling from sites outside.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 2/4/14]

 

Study Shows That Drilling In State Forests Will Be Harmful. According to the Scranton Times-Tribune, “It is an article of faith within the Corbett administration that drilling and gas extraction under state forests won’t harm them, even though a 2010 study by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources found that drilling would threaten the forests’ environmental quality.” [Scranton Times-Tribune, 2/21/14]


Tom Corbett Appointed A “Coal Industry Mogul” To His Cabinet; Corbett Gave Him Power To Expedite Marcellus Shale Permits.   Tom Corbett, in January 2011, appointed C. Alan Walker “acting secretary for the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. In March [2011] he gave him authority to expedite and influence permits at any state agency, including the Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Mr. Walker also was appointed to the state’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, a multi-stakeholder group that will advise the state in developing the Marcellus Shale, a major source of natural gas. The goal, Mr. Corbett has said, is to “make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/11/11]


Tom Corbett Created Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission; “Stacked With Energy Executives” And Only Four Environmentalists.  According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tom Corbett created the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, “to ensure land and water are protected as they help grow the gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania…. The group includes 13 people with ties to the gas industry and only four environmentalists. The others are state and local government officials and a geologist. Thirteen of the members contributed a total of $557,000 to Mr. Corbett’s political campaigns since 2008; 12 have ties with companies whose executives or political action committees contributed another $562,000; one is the son of a $300,000 contributor. All together that amounted to just over $1.4 million.”[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/13/11]


Tom Corbett Claims Marcellus Shale Supports 200,000 Jobs In Pennsylvania. According to the Associated Press, “It might sound good as a campaign claim, especially if you’re trying to take credit for it: The Marcellus Shale natural gas industry supports more than 200,000 jobs, goes an online ad for Gov. Tom Corbett. Then there’s what Corbett said in his first re-election campaign speech: ‘The energy industry in Pennsylvania is now supporting the livelihoods of over 200,000 people and their families.’ The problem is, it’s an iffy claim for an energy sector that economists say is relatively small.” [Associated Press, 11/12/13]

Less Than 29,000 Work In The Oil And Gas Industry In Pennsylvania. According to StateImpact, “The most recent figures from the state Department of Labor and Industry show 28,155 people working directly in the oil and gas industry. The 200,000 figure includes workers in ancillary (or related) industries.” [StateImpact, 11/6/13]

Gas Jobs Account For Less Than 1% of Pennsylvanian Jobs. According to the Allentown Morning Call, “The total number of core gas jobs accounts for less than 1 percent of the state’s nearly 5.8 million jobs.” [Allentown Morning Call, 2/24/14]



As the President and Vice President talk about jobs driven skills training in Pennsylvania today, let’s keep in mind what Republicans are fighting for by supporting the Ryan Budget.
As the President and Vice President talk about jobs driven skills training in Pennsylvania today, let’s keep in mind what Republicans are fighting for by supporting the Ryan Budget.
Who Does Tom Corbett Think He’s Fooling?
On more than one occasion, we’ve gotten a glimpse at Tom Corbett’s real worldview — like when he compared gay marriage to incest, said unemployed people wait around for their benefits to end or that they cannot get jobs because they cannot pass a drug test, or supported a state mandated ultrasound and told women who didn’t want to look at it to “just close your eyes.”
But for a man who served as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General for over six years and Governor for over three years, Tom Corbett claims to be pretty confused about a number of laws in the Commonwealth. 
Last week, he told reporters that he didn’t know that cash gifts were legal. But he does seem pretty clear on the legality of accepting any other kind of gift; since he’s taken office, he’s accepted over $11K in gifts like helicopter rides, vacations, and tickets to sporting events from donors, business executives and lobbyists. 
In December, he said that he thought antidiscrimination laws were covered by the federal government which is why he didn’t support legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. But in a 2010 debate, he said he would oppose an amendment that would do just that because the laws were already in the books. 
Last summer, Corbett, a trained lawyer with access to a variety of legal advice, failed to report his vacation home, which he blamed on misunderstanding the form.
It seems like Tom Corbett and his communication team spend a lot of time inventing excuses. They must figure it’s better than the alternative: letting Corbett say and do what he really believes.
BACKGROUND
Tom Corbett Says He Thought Cash Gifts Were Illegal. According to the Patriot-News, “Corbett told reporters Friday that he’d spoken with legislative leaders about the cash-gift ban, and had been surprised, like many lawmakers were, to learn that they were even legal in the first place. ‘I could not believe that you could accept cash, or gift cards,’ he said.” [Patriot-News, 4/5/14]
 
Tom Corbett Accepted More Than $11,000 In Gifts From Business Executives & Lobbyists With State Interests. A Daily News examination of state disclosure forms found that Corbett and his wife, Susan, accepted $11,343 in gifts from business executives, lobbyists or lobbying firms in 2010 - when the former attorney general mounted his successful campaign for governor - and in 2011, his first year in office. [Philadelphia Daily News, 03/05/13]
Tom Corbett Says He Thought Antidiscrimination Laws For LGBT Pennsylvanians Were Covered Under Federal Law. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “‘I’ve had people come and talk to me about how they were discriminated against, said Corbett, who served for eight years as the state’s attorney general. ‘The federal government has antidiscrimination laws. I believed they covered it.’” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/19/13]
When Asked If He Would Support An Amendment Outlawing Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation,Tom Corbett Said He Would Not. When asked, “What specific steps would you take as Governor to promote tolerance and increase diversity, and also would that extend to signing an amendment to the state human relations act that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity? And also, would that extend to signing an amendment to the state Human Relations Act that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation?”  He responded, “Although, I will tell you I don’t know if an amendment is what will actually make enforcement any better. We already have the laws on the books. Adding more laws on the books doesn’t equal enforcement. We need to actually enforce.” (ABC6 Gubernatorial Debate, 10/18/10)
Tom Corbett Fails To Report His Vacation Home. According to PA Independent, “Gov. Tom Corbett apparently purchased a vacation home in Hilton Head last December, but he failed to note that acquisition on the annual report….Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, which advocates for transparency and accountability in government, told the Harrisburg Patriot-News he expects Corbett and Krancer to know better. ‘These are people who have access to really high-quality legal advice and they ought to be able to get it right the first time,’ Kauffman said. Worth noting: both men are trained lawyers.” [PA Independent, 8/14/13]
 
Tom Corbett, A Trained Lawyer, Says He Did Not Report His Vacation Home Because He Misunderstood The Form. "However, Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts later said it was a misunderstanding about the language on the form, which allows someone to exclude his or her ‘home or principal residence.’ She says the governor thought that since this is a vacation ’home’, it did not fall under the reporting requirements.” [State Impact, 8/13/13]
MEMO: Tom Corbett’s Affordable Care Act “Frustration” Is Entirely Political

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Marc Eisenstein, Communications Director
RE: Tom Corbett’s Affordable Care Act “Frustration” Is Entirely Political
DATE: April 4, 2014

Earlier this week, Tom Corbett publicly stated that he was frustrated and nearing his “breaking point” over the Obama Administration’s decision process of whether to accept Corbettcare or not. This should come as no surprise as his re-election campaign and his Pennsylvania Republican Party have attacked the Affordable Care Act time after time after time over the past several weeks. Tom Corbett made the main thrust of his plan a work requirement – a provision that no other state included in their proposals to traditionally expand Medicaid. Corbettcare has been rightly criticized – his plan was described and as illegal and unlawful and it “would be an unprecedented change in the safety net structure.” Tom Corbett’s decision to forgo a full Medicaid expansion and instead propose Corbettcare has been political from the start. Tom Corbett decided to make outright opposition to the Affordable Care Act one of the main tenets of his re-election campaign and there was simply no way he could allow the law’s full implementation in Pennsylvania.

Take a look at some examples of Corbett’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act dating back to his time as Attorney General:

March 2010: “Attorney General Tom Corbett has joined attorneys general from 12 other states in filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation, signed into law Tuesday by President Obama.” [Morning Call, 3/23/10]

March 2011: Tom Corbett said, “the law threatens every citizen’s civil liberties well beyond the issue of health care.” [Patriot-News, 3/23/11]

March 2011: Tom Corbett testified at a Congressional hearing, “one year after passage of President Obama’s health care law, I disagree with that this law is the right avenue to reach affordable and sustainable health care.” [Department of Aging Press Release, 3/30/11]

June 2012: Tom Corbett called the Affordable Care Act, “a burden to all of us,” and that his “administration will do what we can to ensure that the negative impact of the law affects the lives of Pennsylvanians as little as possible.” [Tom Corbett Press Release, 6/28/12; Patriot-News, 6/28/12]

February 2013: “Calling it ‘financially unsustainable’ for Pennsylvania taxpayers, Gov. Tom Corbett said he couldn’t recommend a dramatic expansion in Medicaid. Corbett used a portion of his budget address Tuesday to rail against the proposed expansion in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act that would cover more Pennsylvanians.” [Pittsburgh Business-Times, 2/5/13]

February 2014: Corbett “said it still remained unclear, from a fiscal standpoint, if the health care law would be functioning in two years. ‘There are a lot more unknowns than there are knowns,’ Corbett said.” [Associated Press, 2/23/14]

Corbettcare Delay Costing Pennsylvania In Long And Short Term
Today, Tom Corbett is opening the Healthy Pennsylvania Public Health Summit in Harrisburg, while over 500,000 people in the Commonwealth are forced to go without health coverage as a result of Corbett’s failure to expand Medicaid. Instead, Corbett insisted upon trying to receive federal approval for a flawed and complicated plan, that if approved, would not go into effect until January 2015. By refusing to expand Medicaid, Pennsylvania is not only losing out in $1 billion in federal funds this year, but will also face long term financial burdens as the result of negative health effects from the lack of available preventative care and screenings.

Corbettcare Would Not Take Effect Until January 2015 If Approved By The Federal Government. ”Corbett’s plan, known as ‘Healthy PA,’ would not take effect until Jan. 1, one year after coverage began in most of the 25 states that have opted to accept federal money to expand Medicaid.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/31/14]

Corbett’s Delay WIll Cost Pennsylvanians $1 Billion.  "The delay means Pennsylvania will lose out on as much as $1 billion in federal payments it would have received in the first year and additional funding through 2016, had the state started offering coverage in January."  [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/31/14]
Preventative Care And Screenings Save Lives And Money. According to Medscape, “Preventive health services can save lives and also a significant amount of money, finds a recent study from the National Commission on Prevention Priorities. Seeking to answer the question of when preventive medicine is a good investment, the study found preventive services such as daily aspirin use, tobacco cessation support and alcohol abuse screening can potentially save 2 million lives and nearly $4 billion annually….Among the services studied by the researchers were adult influenza immunizations, discussion of folic acid use, smoking cessation advice and assistance, and screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, chlamydia, cholesterol, hearing and vision.” [Medscape, 2010]
Hilarious April Fools Joke? Tom Corbett Raises Fees On PA Citizens
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn released the following statement regarding Tom Corbett’s fee increases:
"Today, the first of 150 fees and taxes in the transportation bill signed by Tom Corbett are being raised. Corbett must have hoped that voters would think this was a bad April Fools joke. After all, he did base his entire 2010 campaign off of not raising taxes or fees, ‘not now, not ever.’"
Check out Corbett in his own words:

WATCH: Corbett Promised Wouldn’t Raise Taxes. His Record Says Differently. 

Background


Tom Corbett Promises Not To Raise Taxes Or Fees.


Tom Corbett Promised Not To Increase Taxes Or Fees, In an ABC27 gubernatorial debate, Tom Corbett stated, “I’m the only person here who has signed a pledge not to increase taxes. I’ve also made a promise, we will not increase any fees, not now, not ever.” [ABC27 Gubernatorial Debate, 10/18/10]

Tom Corbett Signed Americans For Tax Reform Anti-Tax Pledge.  Tom Corbett signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to not increase any taxes or fees. According to the AP, ‘Republican gubernatorial front-runner Tom Corbett broadened his no-new-taxes pledge Saturday during a televised debate with Democratic rival Dan Onorato, saying it also rules out increases in fees — such as motor-vehicle levies — or employee contributions to the state unemployment trust fund.” [Americans for Tax Reform 2014 State Legislative Signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, 3/28/14; Associated Press, 10/1710]


Tom Corbett Increases Taxes And Fees By Over $2.5 Billion A Year


Tom Corbett Signed Transportation Bill Increasing Gas Tax And Motorist Fees By 2.3 Billion A Year. According to the Associated Press, “Corbett played down the increases in gas taxes and motorist fees that will be phased in over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion a year.” [Associated Press, 11/26/13]


Starting April 1st, 2014:

  • Fee for a new or replaced identification card is going from $5 to $19, 73% increase.

  • Fee for Issuance of a certificate of a title is going from $22.50 to $50, a 55% increase.

  • Fee for a manufacturers notification for a vehicle transfer is going from $3 to $5, a 40% increase.

  • The fee for recording or changing the amount of a security interest on a certificate of title is going from $5 to $23, a 78% increase.

  • Fee for a copy of information relating to a driver, registration, title or security interest is going from $5 to $8, a 38% increase.

  • Fee for a certified copy of department records is going from $5 to $22 for each form, a 77% increase.

  • PA state police records of investigation of a vehicle accident, which must be furnished to the public is going form $5 to $22 for each copy, 82% increase.

  • Fee for issuance of identification markers is going from $5 to $12 per vehicle, a 58% increase.

  • Fee for temporary permits of motor carriers is going from $5 to $7, a 29% increase.

  • Fee for a temporary trip permit for each qualified motor vehicle is going from $50 to $73, a 32% increase.  [HB 1060, 11/20/13]


Tom Corbett Increased Internet Sales Tax By $50 Million A Year. According to the Associated Press, “The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett is expecting about $50 million from its new efforts to collect taxes on items sold over the Internet. The state Department of Revenue provided the estimate today.” [Associated Press, 2/13/12]


Impact Fee Generates Over $200 Million A Year. The impact fee brought in $202 million during 2012. [Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission]

Corbett Ad Goes Up As His Reelection Chances Go Down
Today, The Fix named Tom Corbett the most vulnerable governor in the country for the 9th month in a row.
Here’s the entry:
1. Pennsylvania (R): Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is still the most vulnerable governor in the country. A recent Quinnipic poll showed voters said he doesn’t deserve reelection by 55-34 percent. Former state revenue secretary Tom Wolf has emerged as the Democratic frontrunner, and he led the incumbent 52-33 in the same poll. Ouch. (Previous ranking: 1)
It’s not a surprise. In fact, Tom Corbett doesn’t even seem to be shocked by his own grim reelection chances. That’s probably why he went up with a new ad today, which makes a total of 9 Corbett radio or television ads that have been aired. That’s some pretty hefty air time for an incumbent governor eight months out from a general election. But desperate times do call for desperate measures… 
Why are you voting against Tom Corbett in November?

Why are you voting against Tom Corbett in November?

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the GOP’s so-called “Autopsy Report,” in which the Republican National Committee analyzed why Mitt Romney lost in 2012 and what steps the Republican Party must take to “rebrand” from its failed identity. For years, Republicans have stood against issues vital to women, African Americans, Latinos, the middle class, and the LGBT community, so it’s no surprise that the GOP Autopsy would recommend serious changes to how the Republican Party approached those communities.
But a year later, all the Republican Party has gotten is a year older. In Pennsylvania specifically, Republicans like Tom Corbett continue to oppose commonsense efforts to help working Pennsylvanians, like raising the minimum wage, while doubling down on offensive, out-of-touch rhetoric against growing constituencies in Pennsylvania, from women to Latinos to the LGBT community.
SD-28 Election Results Hit Corbett Hard
Last night’s outcome in the special Senate election is bad news for Tom Corbett’s agenda and for every Republican who’s part of Tom Corbett’s Harrisburg.  Scott Wagner’s success in SD-28 is proof that Pennsylvania Republicans up-and-down the ballot should be running as far away as possible from Tom Corbett in elections this year. Scott Wagner has been a vocal opponent of Tom Corbett, writing, “Tom Corbett is not a leader.  Pennsylvania has a weak CEO in Tom Corbett.” The Republican establishment headed by Corbett is crumbling and fatal flaws within the party are being revealed.