House Dem Leader says protecting communities, local taxpayers should be priority
COLUMBUS - In response to Gov. John Kasich's renewed push to increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies, House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement:
"Gov. Kasich's proposal to modestly increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies is a step in the right direction. But we should be protecting local property taxpayers and prioritizing our communities, not passing more tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy Ohioans.
"Ohio has one of the lowest severance tax rates in the country so reviewing those rates only makes sense as large oil and gas companies attempt to capitalize on Ohio's natural resources. On this, I agree with Gov. Kasich and frankly I can't understand why House Republicans have stood in the way.
"Instead of protecting the oil and gas industry with one of the lowest tax rates in the country, we should be finding ways to prioritize our communities and protect local property taxpayers. The fallout from last year's budget is just beginning. In next month's special election alone, 35 communities will be seeking local property tax increases.
"Furthermore, the impact of this new industry is going to add significant costs for local communities and this proposal does very little to address this. There's also serious concern about protecting against environmental risk. As of 2011, Ohio had only 30 field inspectors to inspect 64,481 wells. Adding a few more will help but our overall regulatory capacity is still limited.
"I truly believe that our state is only as strong as our local communities. Going forward, we must prioritize Ohio communities and protect local property taxpayers. I agree with Gov. Kasich, we should determine a fair frack tax rate, but we shouldn't shortchange our schools and local communities along the way."