PEC Opposes Legislative Raid on Special Funds

House proposal would drain PA's funding pool for environmental programs
September 11, 2017

PEC has sent the following communication to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives strongly opposing tax code and administrative code bills that would have devastating impact on state-funded environmental, conservation, agriculture, outdoor recreation, and community-based programs.

Click here to identify your legislator and let them know you oppose these provisions.

Find a synopsis of PEC’s analysis and commentary on the budget process here.

 

September 11, 2017

To: Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Re: State Budget Votes

Dear Representatives:

This week the House will be considering proposals to finalize the state budget, including one from a subset of House Republicans, and one that was passed by the Senate in July (House Bills 542 and 118).

Both of these proposals dramatically harm communities, citizens, and the environment, and both fail to offer any lasting or real solution to Pennsylvania’s budget woes. We urge you to oppose them.

The most recent proposal by a group of House Republicans would constitute the largest withdrawal (more than $450 million) of state financial support for environmental, recreation, agriculture, and community based programs in the state’s history. This is not an opinion, it is a fact. Both the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, not to mention numerous government and citizens groups, have detailed how this proposal will adversely impact existing and future projects and private sector jobs, and imperil private investment in districts across the Commonwealth. All for a temporary effort that doesn’t solve Pennsylvania’s real budget problems.

The tax (House Bill 542) and administrative (House Bill 118) code legislation amended and passed by the Senate contain equal affronts to the public, including: dismantling the permitting authority of the Department of Environmental Protection; subjecting proposed air quality protections for one industry to a politically appointed review committee; placing additional water quality treatment burdens on the public, instead of those discharging pollutants; and artificially extending operating permits for a handful of facilities facing noncompliance with state and federal law.

All of this is happening in what should be the limited context of an overdue state budget, and it is merely the latest in a long line of assaults over the past several sessions. Public health and environmental protection are not bargaining chips for enacting a state budget. It is not the right of the Governor or General Assembly to use the environment as a negotiation tactic. Past attempts to trade away protections for short term gain have failed legal challenge, and will most certainly be challenged again if the General Assembly proceeds on its current path.

“Tough choices” on the budget do not justify imperiling our air, water, health, and communities. It is not the leadership desired or supported by the citizens of this Commonwealth.

This week marks a defining moment: the General Assembly can jettison the imprudent tack it has taken to date, or it can proceed with ideas that harm Pennsylvanians without solving the real financial issues facing our state.

We again urge you to meet your obligation as constitutional trustees of Pennsylvania’s environment and reject these short-sighted proposals that are premised on fuzzy numbers and misguided narrative, and that ultimately fail the public.

 

Davitt Woodwell
President
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
2124 Penn Avenue, 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


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