Notes on the state of things …

Notes on the state of things …

Here’s another thing (in a long line of things) that gives “government” a bad name:

The Tribune-Review reports that former state Rep. Frank Dermody has landed a cushy job on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

He’ll be paid $145,000 a year. Good work if your political friends get it for you, eh?

Dermody, 69, was the Democrats’ longtime House minority leader. He was defeated for re-election to a 16th term in November.

Now, here’s where “public service” steps over the line into self-service, if not political self-dealing:

The Trib says Dermody, based on his 30 years of service in Harrisburg, could be eligible to also begin collecting his annual pension — $110,000 a year for life.

And it is not as if it’s a rarity for former legislators to be given such sweetheart deals. As the Trib also notes, the seven-person board has become a cushy landing spot for these public servants “from day one.”

Is the practice legal? Yes. Political patronage in “public service” is nothing new. But that doesn’t make the practice look, or smell, any better.

What will “progressives” do now?

It’s no secret that natural gas prices have been low. And those low prices have resulted in less drilling, particularly in Pennsylvania among those working the shale rock formations.

Now, the Post-Gazette is reporting on how that will result in $56 million less in impact fees collected on well production. In fact, state officials say impact fee collections will be dropping to a record low of $145 million.

Which “will leave less money to share among the counties, municipalities, state agencies and conservation initiatives that split the fees to offset the industry’s demands on the environment, public services and infrastructure,” the P-G says. 

Of course, government being government, don’t be surprised if it does exactly what it shouldn’t do to make up the tanking shale gas revenues – raise the cost to the industry of doing business.

In fact, it already did that once in 2020. You’ll recall that last August the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) more than doubled the cost of shale gas drilling permit to $12,500 per well.

But a not-so-funny (but very predictable) thing happened on the way to sticking it to an industry already throttled by low prices, a glut of product and the coronavirus pandemic.

As the P-G reports, DEP “counted on receiving 2,000 permit applications a year. Seven months into the fiscal year, it has received fewer than 500 shale well permit applications.”

And these are among the same bureaucrats that continue to push for a severance (extraction) tax on top of the existing impact fee?

Never has the truism that the more you tax something, the less you get of it been more apropos.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).