Kate M. Harper
61st Legislative DistrictateHarper.net
RSRT STD.S. POSTAGEAIDARRISBURG, PAERMIT NO 529
As I write this, the scene is snowy outsidemy house and school openings are delayed. Ona parallel track, our nation’s economic recoveryseems to be gaining traction but its recovery ispainfully delayed to those out of work, thosewho have exhausted their savings, those whonever got around to reﬁnancing their mortgagesor selling their houses and now ﬁnd the banksand the market unwilling to cooperate.he health care debate in Washington seemspolitical and academic except for the gnawingrealization that health care insurance dependson keeping a job, or paying higher premiums,and the certain insight that increasing anygovernment program will come with higher costsand higher taxes. And higher taxes without aneconomic recovery means less money availablefor hiring back down-sized employees.n Harrisburg, where the budget must bebalanced each year – we don’t print moneyand we cannot “deﬁcit spend” – we are awashin red ink again. Costs continue to rise for education, Medicaid, unemployment payments,and everything else while revenues from salestaxes, income taxes and corporate taxes arefalling below the expected marks by hundredsof millions of dollars.Last year’s embarrassing budget impasse issomething no legislator wants to repeat, but itwas not the product of “laziness.” Instead it wasthe result of differing philosophies on how to bestbalance a state budget when revenues are off by$300 million and costs are up. It could happenagain. Last year, Governor Rendell stubbornlyheld out for a personal income tax increase andexpanded gambling. The General Assembly didnot believe increasing broad-based taxes in arecession was the right thing to do.his year, however, the debate may includea “severance tax” on natural gas in the MarcellusShale regions of the state. Last year, neither thelegislators nor the Governor wanted to tax thisindustry thought to be “in its infancy,” but withmost other states levying the tax and major energy company Exxon now one of the playershere, the tax is back on the table as a way toavoid another personal income tax increase(it would be the second in Governor Rendell’seight-year term of ofﬁce) while people are stillstruggling.or those of you who don’t have land in themore rural regions of the state and haven’t visitedhere recently, it might come as a surprise to knowPennsylvania has a bit of a gold rush going. Lastyear, 4,000 new oil and gas wells were drilled inrural PA, more than any other state in the nationexcept Texas. This year, a staggering 5,200 wellpermit applications are expected by the stateDepartment of Environmental Protection (DEP).he object is to tap into billions of cubic feet of natural gas trapped in a rock formation knownas the Marcellus Shale accessible now becauseof new technology anddrilling techniques thatpump millions of gallonsof water infused withchemicals into the eartho fracture the rock(“fracking”).Unfortunately, lastyear’s compromisebudget (which I opposed)included revenue fromunlimited drilling in our own state forests, withno environmental impactstudies, no minimumbid prices or maximumacreage limits. The ﬁrstbids for 31,967 acreswere higher than revenueprojections and some instate government seehe Commonwealth’sorests as a “cash cow.”To be sure, the natural gas industry isbringing money into parts of the state that needmoney and jobs. Unfortunately, because thedrillers bring in out-of-state crews, the industryis not bringing in the job opportunities manyexpected, and is exacting a heavy toll on ruralroads (often unpaved), rural services, and insome cases, the rural environment. I believe anatural gas severance tax, with the proceedso include more money for environmentalregulation of the industry and protection for our waters and forests, is an option worth exploring.Some of the revenues should be dedicated tolocal governments to help with the ill effects of he “gas rush,” but this source of revenue wouldbe one way to close the state budget gap. Whatdo you think? Feel free to call or e-mail me.
Thanks to the generous donations of people throughout Montgomery County, Rep.Kate Harper’s ofﬁce shipped 13 boxes full of more than 1,000 CDs and DVDs to soldiers in the B 1/150th Unit #072 in Camp Basrah, Iraq, just in time for the holidays. The shipment weighed 511 pounds. Harper’s staff, Shannon Bucher (left),Mike McLaughlin and Intern Kristin Donehower delivered the donated music and movies to the post ofﬁce. Harper held the collection in honor of fellow lawmakers,Reps. Nick Miccarelli of Delaware County and Scott Perry of York County, who were serving in Iraq over the past year, as well as the many other men and women from Montgomery County and across the state serving our country.
Waiting for Spring and the Return of Prosperity
Harper Available to Speak to Area Groups
Looking for an update on state government? Tips on how to getinvolved in public service? Information on new laws that affect your community or professional organization? Rep. Kate Harper welcomesthe opportunity to speak to groups of all sizes and all ages about issuesof interest to you. She equally welcomes your feedback on state andlocal issues.Just call the Blue Bell ofﬁce at 610-277-3230 to schedule.