State Senate President Jeff Kessler's plan for a Future Fund to pay for real progress in West Virginia relies on an increase in the amount of natural gas being produced in our state. Kessler's idea is that more gas coming out of the ground translates to higher severance tax collections, part of which could be earmarked for the Future Fund.
Well, the time may be now.
Gas production has exploded in the Mountain State, according to a company that analyzes energy trends. A report released this week by Bentek estimated gas output in our state and Pennsylvania is about 50 percent higher than last year.
Without increasing gas severance tax rates, then, the state should collect much more money from the industry.
Of course, revenue declines, including drops in coal severance taxes, have to be factored into the equation by state budget makers.
But unless something like Kessler's Future Fund is established, the state will never accumulate a pool of money large enough to do the big things Kessler envisions. Now, as more and more revenue from the drilling boom flows into Charleston, would be a good time to begin serious discussion of setting some aside for the future.