The governor stopped by the Luzerne County Emergency Management building to meet with local officials. The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick was there..
Surrounded by state, county and local leaders at the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, Governor Tom Wolf called for action on a severance tax he says is long overdue.
“If you did it that would generate about $300 million dollars a year. If you monetize it. That means bond it. You can turn that into $4.5 billion dollars.”
The money wouldn’t come directly from taxpayers – rather those in the coal, oil and natural gas industries. It’s money Wolf says can be used to reduce the threat of flooding. Something the folks in this room know all too well. Many of their communities have been devastated by flooding time and time again.
“‘Restore Pennsylvania’ would provide funding for flood prevention and not just going out to say you’ve been devastated by this, you have problems, but how do we mitigate this? How do we prevent this flooding from happening?” The Governor Asked.
The plan would also create a financial trust fund for those hurt by flooding, but don’t qualify for federal disaster assistance. But the Governor knows convincing state lawmakers to approve the tax. Will be a hurdle he has not been able to jump. In each of the last two years, the Republican-controlled legislatures have rejected the idea of a severance tax, saying it will hurt natural resource development in the commonwealth.
West Pittston has been hard hit in recent years by flooding. It’s Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz says something has to be done to help residents and supports Wolf’s plan “I know the residents in West Pittston would really applaud what the Governor is doing here in Luzerne County. It’s great news.”