Industry opposition grows as Pennsylvania House considers tax increases

Published on August 11, 2017 by Chris Galford

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is currently considering an update to the state’s tax code which could have large repercussions, due to increases of taxes on natural gas and electric users.

The legislation has already passed the Senate, and that fact is stirring opposition from across Pennsylvania’s industries. A multi-industry coalition has formed and even put out a media call this week imploring the House to vote against the Tax Code bill.

“Of Pennsylvania’s competitive business advantages, affordable, accessible energy – particularly natural gas – perhaps stands out the most,” Gene Barr, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry president and CEO, said. “This revenue package would attack that advantage by imposing additional punitive taxes on the natural gas and electricity use – increasing energy costs for businesses throughout the Commonwealth. These costs – along with the proposed tax increase on phone use – would reduce Pennsylvania businesses’ ability to compete in the global economy and re-invest in the state, and will result in higher prices to consumers.”

Among the bill’s demands are a new gross receipts tax on natural gas users, an increase to the gross receipts tax on electric users and a severance tax on natural gas. Terry Fitzpatrick, Energy Association of Pennsylvania president, stated that the package as is would raise more than $400 million from additional taxes on utilities.

The common theme behind coalition supporters was that the bill would not only cost businesses larger sums of money, but actively harm their ability to compete and bite into investment at large.

“The Senate’s action places Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage for new investments for natural gas development and makes manufacturers and employers less competitive,” Stephanie Catarino-Wissman, Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania executive director, said. “Rather than offering proposals that could harm consumers and diminish Pennsylvania’s competitiveness, our elected officials should look at ways to promote public policies that expand Pennsylvania’s opportunity to thrive and position our families to succeed. Bottom line, does Pennsylvania want investment here or elsewhere? The choice should be clear.”