Corbett talks issues with Sun-Gazette

Gov. Tom Corbett is high on the state’s natural gas industry.

He’s not so high on the spending that continues to go on in Pennsylvania.

The governor talked about some of the issues that both gladden and rankle him during an editorial board meeting Friday at the Sun-Gazette.

He’s optimistic that the natural gas coming out of the state’s Marcellus Shale will continue to be a cash cow for Pennsylvania.

“Gas in New England and New York is coming from here,” he said.

And, he said, there’s still the great potential for exporting the gas.

He pointed to the South American nation of Chile, for one, a country he referred to as asset-rich but energy-poor.

He’s concerned, he said, that gas pipelines need to be safe to ensure there is not a repeat of incidents such as the pipeline explosion in Allentown shortly after he took office in 2011. Five lives were lost in the explosion.

Safety doesn’t come without a cost, he noted.

“But who bears the cost? he asked. “It’s going to be the ratepayer.”

The governor stood his ground on his refusal to support a severance tax on gas.

He argued that revenues from the tax would go to the state’s general fund rather than to the communities where the gas is extracted.

The tax would also potentially chase away gas companies that already are here.

And, why he asked, should the gas industry be singled out for a special tax?

“I am against taxes on a single industry,” he said.

Corbett said the state needs a general funding formula for the state’s 500 school districts.

Instead, school districts depend too much on the state for their dollars.

He asked why the state provides the bulk of funding to schools, yet it doesn’t even have a seat at the negotiating table to consider local school district needs.

He noted that education alone takes up about 40 percent of the state’s budget.

Corbett stopped by the Sun-Gazette after touring NuWeld, Inc., at 2600 Reach Road earlier in the morning.