As promised last week, Gov. Rendell this week released a list of cuts totaling $500 million to his proposed 2009-10 fiscal year budget, including cuts to environmental programs in the departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources.
The additional cuts are also made to the PA Center for Environmental Education and zeroed out the repayment of the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund which cleans up leaking storage tanks..
Combined with more than $500 million in spending eliminated during the current fiscal year, plus other reductions that he previously announced to his projected budget, the Governor has now trimmed $2 billion from state spending during the current national economic downturn.
“Like so many of the cutbacks that we have made before, these reductions are painful to me and I understand they will be painful to the people who benefit from the affected programs. But the reductions are necessary,” Gov. Rendell said. “I want Pennsylvanians to know that we continue trying to spread the burden of balancing our budget as fairly and evenly as possible.
“This proposal cuts or completely eliminates nearly 80 percent of all General Fund budget lines from their current level in the budget that was signed into law last July. Twenty-six percent of all budget lines are completely eliminated and of the remaining appropriations that we propose to fund, 70 percent will be reduced from their 2008-09 enacted budget levels,” the Governor said. “We cut further, accepted or partially accepted 53 percent of the cuts that were proposed in Senate Bill 850.”
Overall, 229 line items would be impacted by the latest round of spending reductions. Compared to the current fiscal year, the Governor has now cut three out of every four line items, totally eliminating 163 of them and reducing another 328.
While making the cuts, the Governor preserved funding for K-12 education, economic development programs that are crucial to helping the state pull out of the recession, and key social safety net programs. He avoided actions that could lead to higher property taxes at the local level, or the elimination of services to the most vulnerable citizens of the state.
Here are the specific additional cuts to the departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection, Conservation and Natural Resources--
-- Agriculture - $5 million Overall
$219,000 - General Government Operations
$114,000 - Transfer to Conservation District Fund
$100,000 - Transfer to Nutrient Management Fund
$100,000 - Farm-School Nutrition Initiative (zeroed out)
$12,000 - Agricultural Conservation Easement Administration
$8,000 - Nutrient Management Administration
-- Environmental Protection - $7 million
$2.1 million - General Government Operations
$2.1 million - Environmental Protection Operations
$1.7 million - Black Fly Control
$1.1 million - Environmental Program Management
$28,000 - West Nile Virus
$19,000 - Chesapeake Bay Pollution Abatement
-- Conservation & Natural Resources - $4 million
$1.4 million - State Park Operations
$1 million - State Forest Operations
$1 million - Forest Pest Management
$512,000 - General Government Operations
-- PA Center for Environmental Education - $18,000
-- Underground Storage Tank Insurance Fund Repayment - $1 million (zeroed out)