Fracking protestor in Ohio

bill bakerThis Ohioan opposes fracking, but she is not a lawmaker.

Oil and gas companies have been on a fracking spree in Ohio for a couple of years now, but they’re not bringing many jobs to the state, so Republican Gov. John Kasich has been trying to get them to give back in another way: via a fracking tax.

Under Kasich’s proposal, revenue from the fracking tax would be used to reduce income taxes, an idea that proved overwhelmingly popular with voters, including many Republicans. And the tax would be in line with those imposed by most other oil- and gas-producing states, Kasich said.

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But GOP members of the state legislature have repeatedly blocked the tax from being enacted. Why are they standing in the way? The Cincinnati Enquirer has a theory:

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If campaign contributions are any measure of influence, the oil and gas industry played an important part in the outcome.

An Enquirer analysis has found that 10 of the largest oil and natural gas companies and their main political action committee have pumped more than $660,000 into Ohio legislators’ campaign coffers since 2010.

They’ve given mostly to Republicans, who got 91.5 percent of oil and gas contributions, and most often to Republicans in Ohio’s House, who would later decide the fate of the fracking tax.

House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, alone got more than $227,000 — about $1 of every $10 he raised — from oil and gas companies, PACs and individual donors with ties to the industry.

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Kasich says he’ll keep pushing for the tax. Unfortunately, the oil and gas lobby is sure to keep pushing against it — and they’ve got a really big war chest.