By a vote of 107 to 89, the House this week passed the state's General Fund budget bill-- House Bill 2279 (D.Evans-Philadelphia)-- locking in the 26 percent cut to the Department of Environmental Protection and the 18 percent cut to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for another year.
In addition, amendments were withdrawn by Rep. David Levdansky (D-Allegheny) and Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) that would have either reduced the need to lease more State Forest land for natural gas drilling or imposed a temporary moratorium on drilling. Rep. Vitali said offering the amendments to the General Fund budget bill was "not the right time" to consider this issue.
The amendments were withdrawn, apparently on the promise by House Democratic Leadership to bring House Bill 2235
(Vitali-D-Delaware), which would impose a five year moratorium on leasing State Forest land for natural gas drilling, up before the House for a vote. The bill was reported out of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this week. (see separate story)
Reacting to House action on the budget, Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee said, "This spending plan is already out of balance and it does not reflect the fiscal realities we face. As we face another tough budget year, our goal should be finding ways to cut spending, save taxpayers money and pass a budget that is balanced and sustainable."
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) told a fundraising gathering this week, the deficit for the FY 2009-10 budget is likely to be up to $800 million, not the $500 million previously estimated.