Nevertheless, the mere threat of a tax sent the gas industry on budget-season defensive. After successfully fending off attempts for the last five years to enact a severance tax, the gas industry scrambled to rally opposition.
Representatives from three industry groups last week said such a tax would increase the cost of drilling, reducing profits and driving drill rigs to other states.
"A misguided severance tax could strangle production, undermine Pennsylvania's competitive position, and threaten our bright economic future," said Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania.
She questioned whether a severance tax would generate the kind of revenue that its supporters claim. "The tax is not the panacea that many think it would be," she said.
More than 30 states
Pennsylvania remains the largest natural-gas-producing state without a severance tax, and polls overwhelmingly show voters support the tax. More than 30 states levy taxes on the extraction of oil and gas that in 2010 generated more than $11 billion.
A 5 percent tax, which is about average compared with other gas states' rates, would generate $700 million.
In 2012, Gov. Corbett signed a shale gas impact-fee bill that has since generated $600 million in revenue from drillers. Most of the fees, paid per well, are directed to southwestern counties and northern counties where drilling occurs, to repair roads and bridges and other infrastructure affected by industry activity.