Scott Wagner, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor, is tearing into his incumbent opponent by employing one of President Donald Trump's most popular domestic moves — his big federal tax cut.
Wagner is arguing that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's long-held desire for a severance tax on natural gas drillers would undo the benefits from Trump's tax cuts by spiking utility bills, PennLive reported.
"While President Trump is lowering utility bills for Pennsylvanians, Wolf wants to raise them," Wagner's campaign wrote in an email blast to supporters this week, the outlet noted.
Let the fireworks begin...
Wagner's campaign spokesman, Andrew Romeo, drove the point home to PennLive: "When it comes to sticking those he serves with tax increases, Tom Wolf has made it clear that the money President Trump is saving the people of Pennsylvania should belong to him. Scott Wagner is the only candidate in this race striving to make sure Harrisburg keeps its greedy paws off the president's tax relief. If you are a Pennsylvanian who voted for President Trump on the premise that he would lower your taxes, why would you ever give Tom Wolf another term?"
Wolf's spokeswoman, Beth Melena, countered to the outlet that "no one has done the bidding of big oil and gas more than Scott Wagner," calling the GOP nominee's opposition to the severance tax an example of his "obstructionist tactics."
"Wagner was even caught conspiring with House Republican leadership to kill a severance tax to hurt Gov. Wolf's re-election," Melena continued to PennLive. "And reports show that big oil and gas has spent more than $60 million to avoid paying commonsense severance tax. Scott Wagner has repeatedly sided [with them] over Pennsylvanians."
What are the details?
Utility rates in the Keystone State are indeed going down to the tune of $320 million, effective July 1, to reflect Trump's federal tax cut, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
But Wolf has been pushing a severance tax on drillers, arguing that it won't cause rate increases, would haul in about $250 million annually and that Pennsylvania is the only gas-producing state that doesn't have such a tax, PennLive reported.
However, the state already imposes an impact fee on drillers to help cover the industry's public infrastructure cost — which the outlet noted "is, in effect, a tax on drillers" — that raises about $250 million a year. Critics have said Wolf is sidestepping the costs to drillers from the impact fee, PennLive noted.
TheBlaze on Friday reached out to Wagner's campaign for further comment on the GOP nominee's position on the matter but didn't receive an immediate reply.