Nearly three years after Gov. John Kasich first proposed an increase in the severance tax on oil and gas drilling, his fellow Republicans in charge of the Ohio House have begun to embrace the idea. State Rep. Matt Huffman and Speaker William Batchelder unveiled a proposal last week, reflecting the sound notion of all Ohioans benefiting from the resources extracted by industry from their lands.
No surprise that the House plan falls short of what the governor put forward, the plan generating roughly two-thirds the revenue. Many Republican lawmakers have voiced concern about applying a levy that somehow would discourage the industry from coming here.
Put aside that the industry already has moved deeply into the state. And drillers would leave if the governor’s modest increase took effect? The House plan won quick praise from the industry as a “sensible modification.”
To its credit, the House would route funds to improved regulation and protection. Troubling is another element it shares with the governor’s proposal — applying the savings to an income tax cut, the state having already reduced rates by nearly one-third. School districts have been squeezed. College students face mounting debt. State parks need maintenance. There are better uses for the revenue, along with a strong case for the severance tax rate the governor proposed.