- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A tax policy commission studying Ohio’s oil-and-gas severance tax is likely to have a report with various recommendations in time to meet its deadline - even though at least some members were only just formally appointed, Senate President Keith Faber said Wednesday.

Faber told reporters a “concept document” from the 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission could come on the deadline Thursday or on Friday.

“They are going to produce what we asked them to do,” he said.

Faber’s comments came the same day he first formally appointed Senate members to the commission, which was created in the state operating budget passed this summer. He said the group had been meeting informally since July, however.

Faber declined to say whether the document would call for increasing Ohio’s drilling tax, as Gov. John Kasich has advocated, or to hint at any other potential recommendations. He said the report would contain a review of the market environment for oil and gas, which is not the same as it was six months ago.

The tax increase has been a policy priority of Kasich’s for years now. The Republican governor and 2016 presidential hopeful says Ohio’s severance tax on oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids is too low. He proposes raising it and using proceeds to reduce Ohio’s income-tax rate.

The hike’s omission from the two-year, $71 billion state operating budget came as the latest political blow to Kasich on the issue. The increase he initially proposed early in his first term, which began in 2011, would have come amid a boom made possible by then-new hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, technology. Drilling in eastern Ohio’s mostly Utica Shale deposits is less rigorous now.

At the time of that decision, Faber described negotiations with the powerful oil and gas industry as nearing fruition. He described Oct. 1 as a “hard deadline” for striking “meaningful compromise.”

“I think that they have some good common ground that they’ve arrived at,” he said Wednesday.

Oil and gas interests continue to stick to their position that the tax increase would be bad for the industry and the state.

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Associated Press writer Ann Sanner contributed to this report.


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