"They pay all the taxes that every other corporation does."
That was Gov. Tom Corbett referring to the natural gas drilling companies in Pennsylvania during a visit to the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville a week ago.
That statement would no doubt draw a snide chuckle from the opponents of the gas drilling in Pennsylvania and lawmakers who want to tax first and ask questions later.
The fact is that the Act 13 impact fees generated more than $200 million in 2012, the first year in effect, and are expected to generate another $260 million in July.
Much of that is going to road restoration and other infrastructure work in our region. Frankly, we think just about all of the impact fee money should be going to municipalities in the gas drilling web, but you can't expect state government to not take any of those impact fee revenues.
Imagine if this were a state tax, as some pushed for it to be. We can almost guarantee more of the tax revenue would be staying in Harrisburg and less would be coming to our municipalities.
But the bottom line is Corbett's original statement there's no reason to favor the gas drillers, but there's every reason to treat them the same as other companies.
That's especially true given their impact in so many parts of the local economy, including the airport where Corbett made his brief stop. Half of the traffic at the airport is a direct result of natural gas drilling.
A new terminal may help the airport's future, but more flights and carriers would help the gas industry in particular. Corbett has said he wants Pennsylvania to be the world's natural gas drilling hub. He can make a push toward that goal by boosting the local airport's ability to service the industry.