State’s 2016-17 Budget Did Not Favor the Environment

This communication was sent to PALTA partners on July 15, 2016

The state’s 2016-2017 budget did not favor the environment:

  • For a second year, Growing Greener lost $15M due to Growing Greener’s dependence on natural gas impact fees, which have dropped dramatically with reduced drilling activities. Growing Greener was competing for these funds with the state’s General Fund, which (absent new revenues) needed the money to keep state government (e.g., DCNR) running.
  • The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund, High Performance Green Buildings Program, and Recycling Fund also took hits.
  • DCNR and DEP, having experienced many years of cuts, were both in need of substantial increases to address water protection and other needs. This did not happen.

However, there were some bright spots for conservation:

24% Increase for Farmland Preservation

With the increase in cigarette taxes, the state Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program gets a boost of $5M annually. It moves from $20.485M to $25.485M annually.

More Conservation-Related Real Estate Transactions Excluded from Realty Transfer Tax

PALTA had worked to expand the types of conservation real estate transactions excluded from paying realty transfer taxes. Although many land trust real estate transactions were already excluded, local government transactions involving easements were not. The newly expanded exclusions include:

  • A transfer of an agricultural conservation easement to or from the Commonwealth, a county, a local government unit or a conservancy under authority of the Agricultural Area Security Law;
  • A transfer of a conservation easement or preservation easement under the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act; and
  • A transfer of a perpetual historic preservation easement, a perpetual public trail easement or other perpetual public recreational use easement, a perpetual scenic preservation easement or a perpetual open-space preservation easement to or from the United States, the Commonwealth, a county, a local government unit or a conservancy.
  • Transfers to or by a land bank.

PALTA will be updating its guide to Realty Transfer Taxes in the next few days to reflect the changes in law.

Andrew M. Loza, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association