Perhaps the 7th time is the charm for a natural gas severance tax, a long talked-about priority for Governor Tom Wolf that he mentioned again on Thursday for his 2021 agenda.

Even though State Rep. Mike Schlossberg supports the measure, he admits it's still a long shot.

"I also have no doubt the odds against having a shale tax are still relatively high so I'd like to see a start somewhere," Schlossberg said. "It's a reasonable way of saying to the industry you're entitled to make a profit but we wanna be able to repay our people for using our natural resources."

Critics argue that a severance tax would just drive up energy costs at a time when businesses and individuals are struggling.

"Pennsylvania is now the number two producer of natural gas in America," said David Taylor, the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association. "That's what Governor Wolf is talking about, sacrificing to pay for more government spending in Harrisburg."

A 2018 analysis estimated the tax would generate more than $4 billion in revenue over 20 years. However, even some environmentalists are concerned it would encourage reliance on non-renewable energy.

Schlossberg argues that the money would take some of the squeeze off taxpayers.

"My consumers, my constituents are ultimately paying the price for them getting away tax free with higher property taxes and failing to fund our schools properly," Schlossberg said.

Wolf is expected to present more details in his budget address on Tuesday, February 2.

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