SALT LAKE CITY -- A proposal to raise the severance tax on oil and natural gas to increase funding for education has been delayed in a House committee.
Members of the House Revenue and Taxation committee listened to testimony for almost an hour Friday. HB 98 would raise the tax on oil and natural gas and divert the added revenue to public education. Because it ran long, the bill was held for further consideration next week.
One University of Utah economist estimated the tax increase to be 26 cents on every barrel of oil.
The bill has run into significant opposition, especially from eastern Utah officials, who claim raising the tax on gas and oil will negatively impact the region.
Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee said the way to increase severance tax revenue is to open up public lands for development. He said 77 gas leases have been canceled in the Uintah Basin recently and more tax may lead to even a greater exodus.
Sponsored by Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, the bill projects raising the tax could add $37 million to the state economy in 2014, much of which would be directed toward education.