Poll: Pennsylvanians Support Severance Tax, Depending on the Conditions
Recent polls have shown that a majority of Pennsylvanians support an extraction tax on the Marcellus Shale gas companies. However, a poll by Anderson Robbins Research shows that Pennsylvanians would not support a severance tax if it killed jobs or went to fund pension plans for public employees.
The Anderson Robbins Research survey found that 55% of Pennsylvania voters support a severance tax while 34% oppose it. In a partisan breakdown, 70% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and 38% of Republicans favor an extraction tax.
When asked, though, if they would still support a severance tax if it meant jobs moving out of the commonwealth, only 33% of those who responded supported the severance tax and 58% opposed it.
This was the wording used by the pollsters for the question: “Would you support raising taxes on Pennsylvania natural gas producers even if it results in jobs leaving the state and Pennsylvania residents losing their jobs?”
The question seems to lead responders to be against the extraction tax because it links the tax to job loss in Pennsylvania.
In addition, the pollsters asked whether the respondents would still support the severance tax if the money went to pay for pension funds for public-sector employees. 57% opposed the tax and only 36% supported the tax under these conditions.
The budget season is underway in Harrisburg, and, rather accordingly, those polled were asked “to choose between creating new jobs in the natural gas industry for Pennsylvania residents or higher taxes and fees on natural gas producers to fund the state budget”. 61% went with creating new jobs over severance tax money going to fund the state budget. Even 51% of Democrats, who overwhelmingly support implementing a severance tax, picked new jobs over higher taxes on the gas companies.
Again, both of these questions appear to be pushing respondents to oppose the severance tax by basing their queries on assumptions about potential negative side effects of such a tax.
Finally, respondents were asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate that “encouraged the growth of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania.” Sixty-four percent, including 54% of Democrats, said they were more likely to vote for a politician who supports the growth of the Marcellus Shale gas industry.
Obviously, given the fact that the Marcellus Shale Coalition commissioned this poll the results should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
Nevertheless the results of this survey can still be an important tool for Gov. Tom Corbett and other Republicans running against a severance tax in their campaigns.
502 Pennsylvanians were surveyed over the phone for this poll by Anderson Robbins Research from June 6th to June 8th. The margin of error is plus-minus 4.4%.