HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – The top Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate has rolled out his long-awaited proposal to impose fees on natural gas drillers in the state’s Marcellus Shale region.

(Pa. Sen. Joe Scarnati, in file photo)

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State Senate president pro tem Joe Scarnati says because it’s a fee and not a tax, and does not provide for exemptions or deductions, it would actually raise more money than the natural gas extraction tax considered last year by the GOP.

On a conference call today with reporters, Scarnati (right) said he’s tried to craft a bill that will fit the governor’s no-tax parameters — but also said this:

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“I cannot see how we get a state budget done with the cuts that are coming, without bringing some dollars from this industry.  I can’t see how we get the process done, and I don’t know how we can be straight-faced (without imposing fees).”

Scarnati’s proposal would designate revenue for counties and local municipalities impacted by drilling, for state conservation districts, and for roads and environmental clean-up.  Scarnati says he’d like to see counties and municipalities get 60 percent of the revenue pie.

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Reported by KYW Harrisburg Bureau chief Tony Romeo