The Governor’s proposed budget maintains the status quo on key conservation funding programs, including the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund, Growing Greener (Environmental Stewardship Fund) and farmland preservation. The budget zeroes out funding for Heritage Area Programs (which had been zeroed out for several years until last year when it was allocated $2.25 M). The governor also proposes to generate $75M by leasing additional state forest lands. The new leasing will occur, according to the governor’s proposal, near existing drilling sites, allowing no new construction of well pads.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
$2.9 million decrease, 9.9 percent, in General Fund support from $30 million to $27 million.
- $117.4 million in funding for general agency operation is again being made up from the Oil and Gas Fund.
- $6 million increase in Dirt and Gravel Roads funding from Transportation Funding Plan
- $2.2 million cut from Heritage Parks, zeroed out
- The Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund increases slightly (Editor’s Note: accounting tactics reflect a discrepancy in total disbursements from 2013-4 to 2014-5 but revenue and expenditures of the Fund do not appear to be impacted).
Context: DCNR General Fund budget in FY 2002-03 was $322.9 million, now reduced to $27 million. Agency complement is now 1,382, in FY 2002-03 it was 1,391. There was no decrease in DCNR complement proposed for FY 2014-15.
More State Forest Gas Leasing Proposed in Corbett’s Budget
Gov. Corbett’s proposed FY 2014-15 budget includes a proposal to lease additional natural gas rights in State Forests to generate $75 million more in revenue to DCNR’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund. The Governor’s Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said additional leasing would be near existing drilling sites and gas companies would not be allowed to construct new well pads.
Secretary Zogby said Gov. Corbett would be issuing a new Executive Order to replace the Executive Order Gov. Rendell issued in 2010 a few days before the gubernatorial election imposing a moratorium on leasing State Forest land. The Rendell Administration leased 137,000 acres of State Forest land for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
Department of Environmental Protection
$10 million increase, 7.8 percent, in General Fund support, from $127.6 million to $137.6 million.
- $24 million increase in Dirt and Gravel Road funding from Transportation Funding Plan
- $2.5 million Conservation Districts, no change
- $3.1 million increase in Growing Greener funding for Watershed Protection & Restoration
- $1 million reduction in Growing Greener funding for Abandoned Mine Reclamation
- $200,000 cut in Sewage Facilities Planning Grants, zeroed out
- $500,00 cut in Delaware River Basin Commission, 53.6 percent
- $500,000 cut to Household Hazardous Waste Program, 50 percent
- $43.8 million in Environmental Stewardship Funds going to pay Growing Greener II bond debt service.
Context: DEP General Fund budget in FY 2002-03 was $728.2 million, now reduced to $137.6 million, and its full-time salaried staff complement was 3,211, now reduced to 2,663 over the last 13 years.
Department of Agriculture
$2 million decrease in General Government Operations and other cuts resulting in a 0.1 percent increase in General Fund support to $123.8 million.
- $869,000 Conservation Districts, no change
- $2.7 million Nutrient Management Fund, no change
- $787,000 cut in Agricultural Research, zeroed out
- $350,000 cut in Hardwoods Research & Promotion, zeroed out.
Context: Agriculture’s General Fund budget in FY 2002-03 was 274.3 million, now reduced to $123.8 million. There was no decrease in Agriculture’s complement proposed for FY 2014-15.
Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund
Total allocation from the Fund will be reduced to $113.9 million from $186.5 million last year.
- County Grants – $11.8 million, $11.7 million last year
- Commonwealth Financing Authority – $15.7 million, $44.4 million last year
- Commonwealth Financing Authority H2O Program – $9.8 million, $27.7 million last year
- Community & Economic Development – Zeroed out, $7.4 million last year
- Environmental Protection – Zeroed out, $19.9 million last year
- PennVEST – $9.8 million, $27.7 million last year
- Highway Bridge Improvement – $19.7 million, $19.5 million last year
- Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund – $42.8 million, $27.8 million last year
- Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund – $3.9 million, zero last year
Source: Pa Environment Digest