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Sen. Yudichak Reports

Fair Severance Tax Needed to Fully Capitalize on Marcellus Shale Industry

Severance Tax event
Video of Sen. Yudichak's remarks regarding his Marcellus shale severance tax proposal.

In order to fully capitalize on the benefits of the Marcellus shale industry, we must have a comprehensive economic strategy in place – and that strategy needs to include a fair and reasonable severance tax.

I recently joined local leaders in education, environmental protection and business at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) to unveil details of a plan to enact fair and reasonable severance tax proposal on the Marcellus shale industry.

The plan would levy a new 5% tax on the extraction of Marcellus shale gas and the revenue generated by the tax would be used to fund education, protect the environment and stimulate the economy. It is estimated that the severance tax would generate $720 million in the first year alone.

Under the proposal, education would receive the largest share of the revenue generated by the severance tax, with $375 million in FY 2014-15, growing to $453 million in FY 2015-16, and more than $1 billion by 2020 dedicated to education funding. All annual increases in tax and fee collections after FY 2015-16 would be dedicated to fund education.

Roughly $195 million of the revenue in FY 2014-15, and $250 million every year after that, would be used to fund DCED programs; make Severance Tax eventinfrastructure investments; fund local economic development projects and implement new tax reduction incentives to improve the local business climate.

The proposal would also make significant investments in environmental protection with $75 million dedicated to Growing Greener programs and $75 million dedicated to replace the administration’s plan to allow Marcellus drilling near state parks and forest land in FY 2014-15. In FY 2015-16 and every year thereafter, the proposal would allocate $120 million for Growing Greener programs and $30 million for other environmental programs.

Fair taxes mean better jobs, better education and better environmental protection; and a severance tax would level the playing field for all Pennsylvania businesses to grow along with the Marcellus shale industry and ensure that we do not have to make drastic budget cuts to important state programs every June.

DCNR Grant Will Help North Branch Land Trust Conserve Mocanaqua Mountain

Sen. Yudichak at DCNR grant announcementI recently joined the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Ellen Ferretti, local legislators and officials from the North Branch Land Trust and Earth Conservancy at the trailhead to the Mocanaqua Loop Trail to announce a $4 million grant that will expand the Lackawanna State Forest to include Mocanaqua Mountain.

The DCNR grant is part of the state’s Enhance Penn’s Woods initiative that will fund an estimated 200 projects with a $200 million investment in repairing and improving Pennsylvania’s state forests.

The Mocanaqua Mountain land that this grant will preserve is some of the most pristine land in Northeastern Pennsylvania and I am thrilled to see the state investing to protect and conserve these treasured forest lands of Conyngham and Newport Townships.

The state invested $4 million in Keystone Land Trust and Oil and Gas Lease funding through DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program to purchase the land. The North Branch Land Trust, which now has over 15,000 acres under its stewardship and has become the region’s premier land trust, facilitated the purchase from Earth Conservancy, which agreed to sell the 3,000 acre Mocanaqua land tract in Conyngham and Newport Townships at half its worth.

The partnership forged by DCNR, the North Branch Land Trust and the Earth Conservancy is a shining example of how, through conservation, government can live up to the words of former Gov. Gifford Pinchot and do ‘the greatest good to the greatest number of people for the longest time.’

Sen. Yudichak's Community Corner

Nathalie Joanlanne with Sen. Yudichak and Sen. Baker

Joined Senator Lisa Baker to welcome Wyoming Seminary’s state champion tennis player Nathalie Joanlanne to the Capitol.

The Scranton School for Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Children

Had a chance to meet many of the great young students from The Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children at the Capitol.

PASSHE installation ceremony

I am excited for our students and our PASSHE schools as we officially installed Frank Brogan as PASSHE chancellor earlier this month.

Eagle Scout
Proud to honor Nanticoke Eagle Scout Chandler Prymowicz in the Senate for earning all 137 Boy Scout Merit Badges.
Expo
PPL Susquehanna

Had a great time talking to the employees of PPL Susquehanna nuclear plant in Salem Township at their yearly legislative luncheon

St. Luke's tour

Enjoyed meeting the great staff and touring the St. Luke’s hospital in Coaldale recently.

$1.1 Million Grant Will Fund Local Natural Gas Fueling Station

CNG StationI am excited to announce that a $1.1 million state grant will be used to construct a public access Liquefied Compressed Natural Gas (LCNG) fueling station in Pittston Township. Clean natural gas vehicles are the way of the future and making a fueling station readily available and publicly accessible will prove to be a huge advantage for our region.

The fueling station will be constructed by Clean Energy, Inc., who will use the $1,172,080 Alternative and Clean Energy Program grant along with $1,758,121 in matching funds to complete the project. The station will be equipped with both Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) dispensers with a capacity to dispense 1.3 million Diesel Gallon Equivalent of natural gas per year.

This $3 million joint investment by the state and Clean Energy is great news for our environment and also for the Greater Pittston area -- as the nearest public access LNG fueling facility is over 133 miles away and the nearest public access CNG station is 49 miles away.

The Alternative and Clean Energy Program (ACE) provides grants and loans for the utilization, development and construction of alternative and clean energy projects in the state. The program is administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), under the direction of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).

LIHEAPLIHEAP Deadline Extended to Friday, April 18

It was recently announced that the deadline to apply for Pennsylvania’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, has been extended until Friday, April 18. LIHEAP is a great program that helps low-income residents pay for expensive heating bills -- and after a frigid winter, it is imperative eligible families do not miss this important deadline..

To be eligible for LIHEAP, the maximum income level to qualify for heating assistance as a single person is $17,235. For two people, $23,265; three people, $29,295; four people, $35,325; and five people, $41,355.

Applications for the federally funded program are being accepted online at www.compass.state.pa.us and also by stopping in any of my district offices. The deadline to apply for LIHEAP assistance is April 4, 2014.

For more information on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, click here.

Monday is Last Day to Register to Vote in May Primary Election

VotesPAIf you are interested in participating in the upcoming May 20th Primary Election and want your voice heard and vote counted, do not forget to register to vote by Monday, April 21.

Voter registration forms are available online or in any of my district offices and must be postmarked no later than Monday, April 21 in order to be processed for the May Primary Election.

Interested individuals can also register to vote in person at the Luzerne County voter registration office or the Carbon County voter registration office in Jim Thorpe. For any additional questions about hours or services provided at the county voter registration offices, you can reach the Luzerne County office at (570) 825-1715 or the Carbon County office at (570) 325-4801.

Deadline for Municipalities to Apply for Small Water and Sewer Grants is May 16

DCEDI encourage all of our local municipalities and municipal authorities that are looking for funding to upgrade and repair their sewer and water infrastructure to take advantage of the Department of Community and Economic Development PA Small Water and Sewer grant program.

There is $3 million in state grants currently available through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) to assist municipalities and municipal authorities with the construction, improvement, expansion, or rehabilitation or repair of a water supply or sanitary sewer system. Projects eligible for funding are those which have a total project cost of not less than $50,000 and not more than $150,000.

The application deadline for this important program is May 16 and projects will be considered at the July 8 meeting of the CFA.

For more information on the PA Small Water and Sewer grant program or to apply for funding, click here.

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