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Opposing severance tax: Community leaders in eastern Ohio join coalition

WHY IT MATTERS: Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to raise the severance tax on the oil and gas industry in Ohio would raise an estimated $260 million during the next two years, with 20 percent going to local governments in eastern Ohio. Opponents say the increase would hurt the industry — and send drillers elsewhere.

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According to GovJohn Kasich’s proposal money from the severance tax would be distributed in the following way:80% to the general revenue fund;10% to the ... » Read more X Where the money would go According to GovJohn Kasich’s proposal money from the severance tax would be distributed in the following way:80% to the general revenue fund;10% to the county severance tax fund;5% to a custodial fund called the Severance Tax Infrastructure Fund;5% to a custodial fund called the Severance Tax Endowment Fund.Source: Ohio Legislative Service Commission crowdyNewsWidget_flag = false; .pgNumactive{ text-decoration:underline; } .pgactive{ color:#315680; } .pginactive{ color:#d2d2d2; } #pagingControlsPS ul li{ float: left; margin: 0px 5px; font-weight:bold; } .title-pager{font-weight:bold} var pagin = { changepg:function(pg,track,ps){ $('#pgctrlp').removeClass('pginactive').addClass('pgactive') $('#pgctrln').removeClass('pginactive').addClass('pgactive') if(pg=='next'){ artcurrent++; if(artcurrent“Nearly 14,000 Ohio companies play a part in Utica shale development, which is still new to our stateThis industry is facing low commodity prices and must make tough choices about where and how to invest.We need to encourage the industry to stay in Ohio, not create tax policies that makes it more attractive to drill elsewhere.”The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Protect Ohio Jobs Coalition, a group that includes elected officials, unions and businesses.In GovJohn Kasich’s proposed 2015-16 biennial budget, he calls for an increase in the severance tax — 6.5 percent on oil, condensate and gas and 4.5 percent on natural gas liquidsThe administration said the tax would bring in $260 million during the next two years.The money would be used to reduce business and personal income taxes in the stateTwenty percent would go to local governments in eastern Ohio.In a press release, the Protect Ohio Jobs Coalition said, “The coalition is concerned that this drastic tax increase on energy production would threaten Ohio jobs and investment and could drive up energy costs for Ohio families and businesses.”Jim Milleson, a member of the coalition who owns a real estate company in Freeport, said oil and gas development has benefited Harrison County“I’m 110 percent behind it.”He is not opposed to the idea of a severance tax.“I’m in favor of a severance tax if it’s about 2 percent and it’s the gas and oil companies paying it and not my landowners,” he said.Milleson said his role in the coalition is to let the public know why members of the group are against increasing the severance tax.“I think what we’re going to try and accomplish is to educate the public on energy,” he said“They’ll have a better understanding of who pays the severance tax.”Carroll County Commissioner Jeff Ohler said his biggest issue with the governor’s severance tax proposal is that he’s not sure what the formula would be for returning a portion of the tax to counties in eastern Ohio.Page 2 of 2 - “We’re one of the highest producing counties in Ohio,” he said“I need more clarificationMy understanding is that the money would go into a pool and each county would have to apply for the moneyWe’re the one putting the most money inI’m not sure I want to compete with someone at a lower levelIt’s just dollars leaving our county.”The Ohio House will likely take up the governor’s budget proposal the first week of April, said state SenJay Hottinger, R-Newark, who represents Tuscarawas County in the Ohio SenateThe Senate will get the bill around the first week of May.He speculated that the House would pull the severance tax language out of the budget bill and make it a separate bill.Lawmakers are “all over the board” when it comes to supporting the increase, he said“There are people who say we shouldn’t have any severance taxI’m more in the middleI support a reasonable severance tax, but making certain that we don’t do something that will dry up those billions of dollars in investment.”On Wednesday, Hottinger met with members of the coalition.Oil and gas companies have been cutting their capital spending by 50 percent to 60 percent because of low energy prices, coalition members told him.“One thing they’re talking about is reduced activityIt’s not just the well drillers who have been impacted, but the residual industries as well,” Hottinger said“They’re approach is, because of market conditions, we shouldn’t be talking about a severance tax at all at this stage.”Reach Jon at 330-364-8415or jon.baker@timesreporter.comOn Twitter: @jbakerTRvar totalpg = 2; 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