PEC Opposes Proposed Diversion of Conservation and Recreation Funds

Today PEC sent the following communication to members of the General Assembly:

July 21, 2017

To: Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Re: Proposed Diversion of Monies from Local Environmental Project Funds

Dear Senators and Representatives:

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) encourages you to oppose any budgetary revenue proposal that involves the diversion of monies from special funds that support local conservation and recreation projects, or support family farmers, in your district.

Several proposals are being proposed to divert tax and fee monies from going to the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund (Keystone Fund), the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener), and programs that support family farm land preservation.

These funds are being used to help improve your districts. They address existing pollution and drinking water problems. They revitalize older communities. They provide recreational opportunities for people of all abilities. They foster small business development. They leverage – by more than a 2 to 1 ratio – private investment. In other words, these funds not only address today’s challenges; they lay the foundation for our Commonwealth’s prosperity in the years to come.

By diverting these special fund revenues from their intended purposes, the state would only be applying a temporary fix to unconnected budget problems – at the expense of Pennsylvanians everywhere.

You should know that communities in your districts have been able to complete more than 2,400 local park projects, complete more than 300 trail projects, and preserve 117,400 acres of green space in municipal parks and greenways because of funding from the Keystone Fund.

You should know that communities, local watershed groups, and family farmers in your districts have cleaned up 1,600 acres of abandoned mine lands, improved water quality with over 400 watershed restoration projects, improved local recreational opportunities, and helped family farmers protect over 78,000 acres through the Environmental Stewardship Fund.

You should know that family farmers in almost every county of the state have been able to stay on their farms thanks in part to financial help provided by Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program, which since 1988 has preserved 536,181 acres of farmland in 58 counties; the largest program in the nation.

Voting to transfer money from the Keystone Fund, Environmental Stewardship Fund, and agricultural land preservation programs is taking money away from communities and landowners across Pennsylvania, including those in your district.

We recognize the budget challenges facing the Commonwealth. But decisions today should not be made at the expense of the long-term prosperity of our state and its citizens. We ask that you consider these facts in the days to come.

Thank you for consideration.