Want to know why Frankfort won’t touch the coal severance tax like other coal producing states have done?
From John Cheves:
“If you try to raise the severance tax, we’ll squeal,” said Bill Caylor, Kentucky Coal Association president.
Coal’s squeals are hard to ignore in Frankfort. The coal industry spent more than $1 million on state political donations in recent years and $255,145 to lobby the last two legislative sessions.
Several top lawmakers work for coal companies, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, both employed by Ashland-based Energy Coal Resources.
And check out these other gems:
Of the top coal-producing states, Kentucky gets the least from severance taxes — only 2.9 percent of its total tax income, compared to 7.1 percent for neighboring West Virginia.
Apart from the severance tax, the state Division of Mine Permits last year collected $1.6 million in fees from mining companies, using the rates set in 1982.
But the agency, which reviews surface and underground mining applications, needed an annual budget of $8.6 million, most of which came from the state’s General Fund and the federal government.
In essence, taxpayers subsidize a regulatory agency for the coal industry…
One has to wonder, like Kathy Stein questions in the article, why Governor Steve Beshear and other elected officials in Frankfort are afraid to put everything on the table during this economic crisis. Guess that coal company cash during election year is too sweet to risk.