LISBON - Not enough of the revenue generated by a proposed state tax on oil and gas production would go to impacted counties that need it the most, which is why state Rep. Nick Barborak said he voted against the measure.
The severance tax that was passed this week by the Ohio House allocates 17.5 percent of the proceeds for local governments. The money must first be used to protect cities, villages and townships and public libraries from any loss in state funds that would result from tax exemptions and incentives contained in the bill.
Counties impacted by the oil and gas boom, such as Columbiana County, would receive 25 percent of what remains, and Barborak, D-Lisbon, is concerned that would leave little for them.
"At a time when our communities are faced with enormous challenges to fix our roads and train our local workers so they can compete for drilling jobs, the paltry sum they left us insults our region," he said, in a news release issued by his office.
Barborak said he opposes allowing most of the money to be spent elsewhere in the state, which the bill allows.
"Until the needs of our local townships and municipalities are being met, we should not be paying for the priorities of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati with revenue from resources that belong to us," he said.
Barborak said he would have voted for the bill had the percentage of revenue directed to impacted counties been set at 50 percent, but that amendment was rejected by House Republicans.
He was also critical of the provision using some of the severance tax revenue to lower the state income tax rates across-the-board, something Barborak said would disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
"Columbiana County and the State of Ohio deserve better. I hope that the Senate will fix this flawed bill. If not, I urge the governor to veto it," he said.
Gov. John Kasich may do just that because the proposed tax falls short of the increase he requested. The bill replaces the current system of taxing oil and gas production based on volume and replaces it with a value-based tax.
Instead of a tax of 10 cents per barrel of oil and 2.5 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas, there would only be a flat tax of 2.5 percent. Kasich favored a 2.75 percent severance tax, in part, to fund his proposed income tax cuts. Democrats pushed for a 5 percent tax.
The Senate is not expected to take up the bill until after the November election.
(The Associated Press and Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story)