Governor's Budget Cuts Environment Again, Keystone Fund Zeroed Out For DCNR

Gov. Corbett presented his budget proposal to a joint session of the Senate and House Tuesday proposing a $27.1 billion General Fund budget, a 0.1 percent cut from the FY 2011-12 budget, which features significant cuts to higher education, and environmental programs, but no tax increases as he promised. (text of speech)

            The Governor now estimates FY 2011-12 will end with a $719 million deficit, up from the $500 million projected earlier.
            The Governor also said he did not include transportation funding proposals in his budget, which he said would be dealt with separately.
            In addition, $56.6 million in funds from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund and the Cigarette Tax will go to the General Fund to balance the state budget.  About $36.1 million from the Keystone Fund and $20.5 million from the Cigarette Tax.  While Department of Agriculture staff have said the $20.5 million will be made up with interest payments from the Growing Greener II bond fund, that is still a net loss to environmental funding.
            The proposal would also shift $6.5 million dedicated to the Alternative Energy Incentive Fund from the Utility Gross Receipts Tax to the General Fund.
            Unfortunately, the gains in funding for local government and environmental projects made in the Marcellus Shale drilling fee just adopted by the General Assembly this week were offset in part by these diversions from previously allocated conservation funds.
            The Governor's proposal would further reduce administrative costs by eliminating 649 state worker positions, including a reduction of 14 positions in DCNR and 11 positions in DEP.
            DEP's authorized complement is now 2,759, down from 2,770 last year and 3,211 in FY 2002-03, and DCNR's is now 1,375, down from 1,389 last year and 1,391 in FY 2002-03.
            Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said at a press briefing on the budget, the proposal does not anticipate any additional leasing of State Forest land for drilling and that cuts to DEP's budget were possible in part because it receives funding from permit fees.
            The proposal also continues the phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
            He also discussed other proposed shifts in revenue such as funding agricultural, veterinary, and fair programs through the Racehorse Development Fund while, he said, still preserving $160 million for the initial purposes of the fund.  
            Secretary Zogby also pointed out Tobacco Settlement Fund money will be redirected to pay for health related costs and fund offsets in long-term care in the Department of Public Welfare rather than funding new health research.
            Click Here for full budget proposal.  Click Here for line-item spreadsheet. Click Here for budget slide presentation.  Also available again this year is the Governor's Budget Dashboard which allows a variety of different views of the FY 2012-13 budget proposal.
            For a different view, visit the House Democratic Appropriations Committee webpage for an analysis of the Governor's proposal by Democratic Chair Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny).
            "Last year, we accomplished much of real consequence. For the first time in 40 years, we spent less,'' Corbett said. "Pennsylvania took its first steps toward changing the culture of tax and spend. Together, we showed we can make reforms that count. It is time to show citizens, weary of empty promises…that we can accomplish more.
            "Today I bring before you a budget grounded in difficult realities but framed in the optimism that we are solving our problems,'' Corbett said. "Once again, revenues do not match mandated, escalating costs. That means we must continue the course bravely charted by this assembly in the year just passed.''
            The $27.14 billion proposal maintains Corbett's commitment to balance the state budget. The budget closes a projected revenue shortfall of more than $700 million and reduces spending by more than $20 million. It meets the state's pension obligations and does not raise taxes for residents or businesses.
            "Every dollar taken in tax is one less dollar in the hands of a job-holder or a job-creator,'' Corbett said. "We will not spend more than we have. We will not raise taxes. We can't ask people to travel the road to recovery and then turn around and add to the burden they must carry along the way.''
            Most importantly, this year's budget begins to transform the way government delivers products and services, the Governor said, through greater use of block grants giving greater control and flexibility to the recipients, including local governments, community organizations and school districts.
            Note: You can watch the hearings live through the Senate webpage and the House webpage or on the PA Cable Network website.
            More Budget Details
            The Governor's budget proposal would make these changes to environmental agency programs:
General Fund - Cut $76.8 Million - 57.7 percent - $56.2 million (cuts due to decreases to Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania line items moved to the Race Horse Development Fund)
Conservation Districts - Cut $10,000 - 1 percent - $1,019,000
Nutrient Management Fund - Cut $27,000 - 1 percent - $2.7 million
Agricultural Research, Hardwoods Research & Promotion, Agricultural Promotion, Education and Exports - zeroed out.
Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax Credit - $10 million, same as last year
(Note: Film Production Tax Credit - $60 million, same as last year)
Growing Greener Funding- $2.7 million, down from $5.1 million
Agricultural Land Preservation- $20.5 million in Cigarette Tax revenue previously earmarked for agricultural land preservation will instead be put in the General Fund to balance the budget.  These dollars, the Department of Agriculture said will be offset in some fashion by interest from the Growing Greener II bond fund, but it still represents a net loss of conservation funding.
Conservation and Natural Resources
General Fund - Cut $2.5 Million - 4.6 percent - $52.7 million
State Park Operations - Cut $1.3 million
State Forest Operations - Cut $382,000
Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund - zeroed out, no transfers to DCNR for grants, a cut of $36.1 million
Growing Greener Funding- $5.7 million, down from $19 million
Oil & Gas Fund - $69.5 million for DCNR, State Parks Operations, down from $79.5 million from last year, no transfer to General Fund
Environmental Protection
General Fund - Cut $10.5 million - 7.8 percent - $124.8 million
General Government Operations - Cut $108,000 - 1 percent - $10.6 million
Environmental Program Management - Cut $3 million - 11 percent - $24.9 percent
Environmental Protection Operations - Cut $3.5 million - 4.6 percent - $74.5 million
Black Fly Control - Cut $103,000 - 3 percent
West Nile Virus Control - Cut $118,000 - 3 percent
Sewage Planning Grants - zeroed out - $779,000
Sewage Facilities Enforcement Grants - zeroed out - $2.5 million
Ohio River Basin Commission - zeroed out - $13,000
Susquehanna River Basin Commission - Cut $64,000 - 10 percent
Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission - Cut $7,000 - 4.9 percent
Conservation District - Cut $29,000 - 1 percent - $2.8 million
Alternative Energy Production Tax Credit - $7 million, $2 million more than last year
Alternative Fuels Incentive Fund: $6.5 million in Utility Gross Receipts Tax revenue normally transfered to the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Fund will be diverted to the General Fund
Growing Greener Funding- $8.9 million, down from $40.9 million from last year
Recycling Fund - $38.2 million would be available, down from $46.7 million last year
PA Infrastructure Investment Authority
Growing Greener Funding- $5.6 million, down from $8.1 million from last year
PA Emergency Management Agency
Hazard Mitigation (Including Floods) - $2.6 million (new)
State System of Higher Education
PA Center for Environmental Education - zeroed out again ($368,000)
McKeever Environmental Center - zeroed out again ($213,000)
            NewsClips: Budget Cuts Higher Education, $719 Million Deficit Projected
                                Corbett's Budget Cuts Environment Again, Zeroes Out Keystone Fund
                                Governor's Budget Mixed Bag For Conservationists
                                Environmental Programs Take A Hit In State Budget
                                No New State Forest Leases In Corbett's Budget
                                Corbett's Proposed Budget Includes Cuts In Agriculture
                                Corbett's Budget Would Cut DEP Spending
                                DEP, DCNR Among Dozens Of Other Groups Affected
                                Corbett Says Transportation Funding Too Big For Budget
                                Corbett Talks Education, Transportation Spending
                                State's Nonunion Employees Want A Pay Raise
                                State Managers Will Get 1 Percent Raise In New Budget
                                Turzai Pitches Bill To Limit Capital Budget Spending
                                Turzai Calls For New Controls On State Borrowing



Go To Preceding Article     Go To Next Article

Return to This PA Environment Digest's Main Page