Hey Allyson Schwartz, if you want to break through and guarantee that you win the Democratic nomination to run for governor, have I got an idea for you. It’s loosely based on the philosophy of Sarah Palin, but don’t let that stop you.
You ready? Here goes. Pennsylvania is sitting on a mother lode of cash, right? The natural gas in the Marcellus Shale reserve is worth at least $2 trillion dollars.
Over the next few months you and the posse of politicians who want to unseat Governor Tom Corbett will claim he gave the oil companies a sweetheart deal for the rights to drill in the state.
You and the rest of the candidates trying to get the Democratic nomination to run against Corbett think the state should be getting more of that money in the form of a severance tax on drillers.
Your campaign estimates that a 5 percent tax would bring in $600 million the first year. But former state secretary of revenue Tom Wolf and Katie McGinty, former head of the state EPA, have also proposed the same 5 percent severance tax and Wolf was on TV first with it. So he has dibs and that’s a big reason he’s ahead of you in the polls. State Treasurer Rob McCord one-upped all of you by proposing a 10 percent tax.
All of you want to use the money for education and other state services and projects. That’s all fine and good, but what about us? Why not separate yourself from the rest of the pack by promising to send checks from the natural gas money directly to us?
Sound preposterous? It’s not.
The Alaska Permanent Fund, established in 1976, gives every man woman and child an annual check for allowing oil companies to drill in their state.
In 2013, every Alaskan got a check for $900. Even infants get a check. Anyone born before the clock struck 12 a.m. on New Year’s Day is eligible. Many Alaskans use the money given to their children to save for college.
It’s not always for $900. Sometimes it’s more. Sometimes it’s less. The money goes into an investment fund that rises and falls with the economy. In 2008, every Alaskan got a check for $2,069, the largest amount ever paid out.
If Alaska can do it, why can’t Pennsylvania?
When oil companies wanted to get into Alaska’s rich oil reserves, the fund was written into the Alaskan constitution. It requires that 25 percent of state oil revenues be put in the fund as payment to future generations of Alaskans who are losing one of their most valuable resources.
Congresswoman Schwartz, this is a no-brainer for a candidate for Governor who wants to break away from the pack. Call it the Alaskan solution. Tax the oil companies and every Pennsylvanian gets an annual check.
If you like it, take it and run with it. If not, I’ve got Tom Wolf on line 2.
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