Ohio communities still without tools to cope with fracking impacts

According to email obtain through an open records request, Ohio House GOP leaders were discussing the possibility of raising the tax rates paid by Oil and Gas companies back in January. In his message to fellow Republicans, Speaker pro tempore, Lou Blessing, hypothesized about two options for raising Ohio’s severance tax:

We could impose whatever it reasonably takes to reimburse the locals and the state for additional costs associated with the increased drilling, or we could make it a little higher and reduce the income tax.

To Blessing, the need to assist local governments dealing with the consequences of fracking was of paramount importance when compared to a cut in Ohio’s income tax—something IO has already pointed out would be a meaningless gimmick.

John Kasich’s approach to helping local governments? An impact fee—revealed in the same set of public records to have been drafted by the very Oil and Gas industry Kasich was aiming to regulate—that essentially gave counties an advance on future property tax collections. The proposal provided zero additional resources for local governments, and went nowhere upon introduction in the legislature.

The need to help local governments is clear, but Ohio legislators have yet to deliver through legislation any new resources. Rather than waiting, as Blessing proposes, until the lame duck session, when the threat of “tax raiser” campaign ads has passed, legislators should immediately get to work to identify new resources to assist Ohio’s communities to cope with added burdens of fracking, some of which are described in this compelling account, printed in the Canton Repository.