If Gov. Corbett’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget is approved, it will extend the record set by Gov. Rendell in cutting environmental programs, which started in his very first year in office, to over $1.8 billion over the last 10 years.
Here’s an itemized list of the cuts and diversions:
- $533 million in Act 339 grants intended to support wastewater plant operations over the last nine years were eliminated to balance the budget ($52 million or so each year);
- $143 million diverted from the DCNR Oil and Gas Fund to balance the FY 2008-09 budget;
- $79 million cut from the DEP and DCNR General Fund budget during FY2009-10;
- $60 million diverted from the DCNR Oil and Gas Fund to balance the FY 2009-10 budget;
- $100 million in 2002 from the Underground Storage Tank cleanup insurance fund to balance the budget (although this is slowly being repaid over 10 years);
- $52.7 million “one-time” diversion from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund in 2006 to balance the budget;
- $50 million in 2007 and 2008 from the Environmental Stewardship Fund, which supports mine reclamation and watershed restoration, to fund the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program because there was no agreement on how to fund that program;
- $201.9 million in FY 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 from the Environmental Stewardship Fund to pay debt service on the Growing Greener II bond issue and taking funding away from restoration projects each year for the next 25 years – reflecting a pattern of only environmental programs being required to address their own bond debt service;
- $15 million from the Recycling Fund in to balance the FY 2008-09 budget;
- $18.4 million put into budgetary reserve in 2008-09 from the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources;
- $5 million reduction in Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program in FY 2009-10;
- $102.8 million cut from the DEP and DCNR General Fund budget in FY 2010-11 budget;
- $180 million diverted from the DCNR Oil and Gas Fund to General Fund in proposed FY 2010-11 budget;
- $5.5 million reduction in Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credits in FY 2010-11;
- $5 million in additional cuts to the agencies to balance the FY 2010-11 budget;
- $3.9 million in across-the-board cuts to help fill gaps caused by reduced federal Medicaid appropriations– $2.4 million from DEP, $1.5 million from DCNR;
- $669,000 from the Safe Water line item in DEP’s budget;
- $102.8 million cut continued from the FY 2010-11 DEP and DCNR General Fund budget in FY 2011-12 budget;
- $8.3 million Mid-year budget freeze cuts additional resources for environmental programs: Agriculture: $2.6 million; DCNR: $1.5 million; and DEP: $4.2 million.
- Governor’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget eliminates $36.1 million in funding for DCNR from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund.
- Governor’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget eliminates $10.5 million in General Fund monies from DEP, and $2.5 million from DCNR.
- Governor’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget continues the $102.8 million cut made by Gov. Rendell beginning in FY 2010-11.
- Governor’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget takes $20.5 million in Cigarette Tax revenue previously earmarked for agricultural land preservation and puts it in the General Fund to balance the budget.
- Governor’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget takes $6.5 million in Utility Gross Receipts Tax revenue normally transfered to the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Fund and puts it in the General Fund.
- Governor’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget for the State System of Higher Education zeroes out funding again for the PA Center for Environmental Education ($368,000) and McKeever Environmental Center ($213,000).
- Dept. of Environmental Protection:
- General Fund FY 2002-03: $728.2 million
- General Fund FY 2012-13: $124.8 million (Proposed)
- Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources:
- General Fund FY 2002-03: $322.9 million
- General Fund FY 2012-13: $52.7 million (Proposed)
- Department of Agriculture:
- General Fund FY 2002-03: $274.3 million
- General Fund FY 2012-13: $56.2 million (Proposed)
The Department of Environmental Protection in particular has been trying to make up for some of the General Fund budget cuts finalizing about $27.8 million in fee increases over the last 18 months as a result of Rendell Administration initiatives:
- Marcellus Shale Drilling Permits: $7,465,000 (from $935,000 to $8.4 million annually);
- NPDES Water Quality Permits: $4,250,000 (from $750,000 to $5 million annually);
- Chapter 102 Regulations: $6,665,000 (from $635,000 to $7.3 million annually);
- Laboratory Certification: $1,550,000 (from $500,000 to $1.6 million annually);
- Beneficial Use of Coal Ash: $75,000 annually; and
- Uniform Environmental Covenants: $82,250 annually.
- Coal Surface Mining Permits: $350,000 (from $50,000 to $400,000 annually), the fees were published as proposed for comment and are still with DEP for finalization;
- Non-Coal Surface Mining Permits: $2,475,000 (from $25,000 to $2,500,000 annually), DEP just solicited additional public comments on the fee package; and
- Dam Safety and Water Management Permits: $4,267,612 a year (dam safety would increase to $1,390.850 from $28,000 and waterway management permit fees income would increase to $2,952,612 from $47,850) [Note: these revenue numbers were revised downward from the original Fee Report Form published with the proposed regulation in December 2010.];
In December DEP took action to withdraw proposed Drinking Water permit fee increases adopted by the Environmental Quality Board in November 2010 which would have generated $8.1 million (from $250,000 to $8,385,000 annually).
Reprinted with permission from PA Environmental Digest (a service of Crisci Associates), 2/10/2012.