Over the last few months, Governor Tom Wolf has been hard at work trying to gain support for his ‘Restore Pennsylvania’ initiative. It would pay for a series of infrastructure projects across the state.
But, the question remains; are lawmakers willing to pass it?
Since January, Governor Wolf has traveled the state to gain support for his $4.5 billion ‘Restore Pennsylvania’ initiative to fund projects that eliminate blight, prevent flood damage, and increase access to high-speed internet.
He says, “I think, what I’m seeing, is there’s actually a lot of support for it.”
In fact, bills for the initiative, according to the governor’s office, already have more than 100 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and Senate.
JJ Abbott, the governor’s spokesman, says, “We think the projects, themselves, have a lot of support; really broad support.”
But, some Republicans believe the plan to pay for it, a severance tax on natural gas drilling would only hurt an important industry for the state.
Jennifer Kocher, with the Senate Republicans, says, “At that point, I think a lot of our members are not willing to go back to this employer and say ‘Give us more money'”.
Kocher doesn’t see a lot of support for the plan, arguing the state already imposes an impact fee on natural gas drillers.
“So, before we come back to this particular employer, look at them and say, ‘we want more money from you,’ we want to look at all the other options that are out there.”
That includes a proposal by some Senate Republicans to open up state forests for drilling and using that revenue to pay for the projects.
But, Abbott says the idea wouldn’t generate enough money and is unconstitutional.
“I think this is really about helping the natural gas industry, and them not having to pay a fair severance tax, more than it is them helping local communities.”