The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

May 15, 2014

Ohio House approves tax hike for shale drillers

COLUMBUS — After years of debate, a tax compromise backed by the oil and gas industry cleared the Republican-led House on Wednesday amid criticism from Democrats who said it failed to adequately protect local communities and the environment and from Gov. John Kasich who wanted a bigger tax hike.

Kasich, also a Republican who has tried previously to raise taxes on the industry, said the compromise doesn’t raise enough revenue to cover a statewide income tax break.

The legislation passed the House, 55-35, one day after it cleared a committee by a single vote.

Democrats expressed disappointment and frustration over taxing drillers at a severance tax rate of 2.5 percent on horizontal wells, which opponents said isn’t enough of a return to compensate the state for the resources and related infrastructure impacts.

The rate is less than the 4 percent Kasich initially sought and below other states in the region, but the industry has said it’s four times what other Ohio industries pay on gross receipts through the state commercial activity tax.

Oil and gas producers have said a higher tax stands a chance of scaring off potential hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, development that’s taking place mostly in the eastern part of the state.

Rep. Mike Foley, a Cleveland Democrat, called it “irrational” not to raise the tax to a level, in his view, that raises enough to remediate the environmental and infrastructure impacts of drilling.

“I’m frustrated that the science (on climate change) is out there, the science is clear and no one seems to be paying attention to it,” he said.

Rep. Dave Hall, a Holmes County Republican, urged fellow lawmakers to “look at the big picture” and to realize the benefits coming to the state from the shale boom.

Proceeds of the tax would be divvied up between regulation, abandoned well cleanup, geological mapping, county payouts and grants and, finally, the state income tax reduction fund. Because of those earmarks, and relief the bill delivers to drillers on other taxes they currently pay, it is unclear whether any statewide income-tax cut would result.

In an amendment, lawmakers increased the percentage of tax proceeds that would go to local communities from 15 percent to 17.5 percent. Of that share, the first portion would go to restore state local-government and library funds that lose revenue because of tax exemptions and incentives in the bill.

A quarter of the remaining allotment would go directly to county budgets, down from the 50 percent proposed earlier.

The final bill leaves the distribution of competitive county grants — such as for infrastructure — to a commission appointed by the governor and majority party of the Legislature.

Text Only
World, nation, state
  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

  • Bill in Congress to help veterans with PTSD

    A group of lawmakers have joined together to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and other war injuries get speedy medical treatment — and avoid Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy and Department of Defense lack of accountability.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists also has crossed the border.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video