Rep. Blessing

A revealing email, obtained by Plunderbund, demonstrates the political calculus that took place when House GOP leaders considered plans to raise Ohio’s severance taxes on oil & gas drillers in advance of an expected fracking boom.

On January 22, Lou Blessing, Speaker pro tempore of the Ohio House of Representatives, emailed his GOP colleagues with his thoughts on a possible increase in the tax–something that Governor Kasich was rumored to be considering. In his email, he compares Ohio’s taxes to other states, stating “Ohio is on the very low side” and puts forth two scenarios for raising it, in the following order:

We could impose whatever it reasonably takes to reimburse the locals and the state for additional costs associated with the increased drilling, or we could make it a little higher and reduce the income tax.

Clearly, faced with the prospect of increased tax revenue from fracking, even a top Republican legislator placed assistance to local governments ahead of a tax cut, the only use of the revenue Governor Kasich says he will consider. Kasich is so adamant about not helping local governments, suffering from severe cuts in his two-year budget, actually threatened to veto any measure providing extra cash to communities in the mid-biennium budget review.

In other words, at least one leading House Republican appears to agree with liberal think tanks, the editors of the Toledo Blade, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal and House Democrats that any proceeds from increased fracking taxes should be shared with local governments before we consider cutting the income tax.

Also revealing is when Blessing ponders the political consequences of such a move:

The dems are surely looking to vote “no” and run the “tax raiser” ads.

After outlining various policy options, he closes his email by suggesting they punt until after the elections:

In fact there is no reason we need to do this before the lame duck session.

So, there you have it folks. Cynical election year politics at work. Ohio communities might be struggling, and we might be able to help them, but it could be used against us in campaign ads, so better wait until after November.

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  • Dmoore2222

    They’re gonna get pounded in November and they know it. SB5 was a gift from heaven if you’re not a republican and a self-inflicted, mortal wound if you are. Keep digging, boys!

  • leeseh

    From your mouth to God’s ears!

  • westparkguy

     It’s not in it’s infant stage, big oil has been doing it for years.

    People are just finding out about it because of the environmental impacts.

  • Todd Cline

    It sort of puts the lie to the claim that businesses won’t come into the state because of our supposedly high tax rate.

  • Mr. Brown

     In it’s infant stage!? They’ve been taking energy from Ohio since 1810, for crying out loud! The energy companies get to take, take, take, and in return, fight against liveable wages and benefits for people with lung cancer. They have never paid taxes.

  • pb_dirtgirl

    Yes, those poor struggling oil and gas entrepreneurs, tinkering away in their garages, hoping to get off the ground. How ever will they succeed with Ohio asking them to pay half the tax rate they are charged in Texas.

  • Modern Esquire

    Which is it?  When the earthquakes were hitting Youngstown, it was “we’ve been fracking for decades” without incident.  Now it’s an infant industry?  Infant industry suggests that its being driven by start ups, not large already well established oil and gas companies.

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