Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Painful Details For Environmental Funding In FY 2010-11 Budget Now Available

The new $28 billion General Fund budget agreed to by the Senate, House and Gov. Rendell today has more steep cuts for environmental funding bringing the cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection in FY 2009-10 and 2010-11 General Fund appropriations to 33.2 percent and to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to 27.2 percent.
As examples of the pain in the FY 2010-11 budget, Gov. Rendell cited: an additional 11.7 percent cut in the Department of Agriculture, an additional 9.2 percent cut in the Department of Environmental Protection and an additional 11 percent cut in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (specifically an additional cut of 7.3 percent in State Parks).
See a table on some environmental line items available online.
The FY 2009-10 budget cut 26.7 percent from DEP and 18.5 percent from DCNR which means over the last two years DEP's budget was cut 33.2 percent and DCNR was cut 27.2 percent.
The Governor said the cuts will require about 1,000 layoffs of state workers, although the numbers are still being worked through given the line item numbers.
The FY 2009-10 budget cuts required DEP and DCNR to furlough or eliminate 333 full time positions and DCNR had to eliminate or reduce hours for 1,131 seasonal workers.
Fund Transfers
Gov. Rendell also said there were some transfers from several special funds, like the Environmental Stewardship and Keystone Funds, to help balance the budget, about $100-$150 million worth, but details were not announced.
REAP Tax Credit
There is no word yet on whether there were any changes to the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Farm Conservation Tax Credit which was scheduled to be funded at the $4.5 million level, cut from $5 million in FY 2009-10 and $10 million in FY 2008-09.
Severance Tax
The Governor said he would be setting up a special commission over the summer to start work immediately on adoption of a natural gas protection severance tax, which under the agreement is to be adopted by October 1 with the new tax to start January 1.
Transportation Funding
He also said he would be calling another special session on transportation funding and is planning to meet with legislative leaders to go over revenue options on July 20.
Capital Budget
The Governor said he was pleased RCAP capital budget funding was increased by $600 million and economic development funding was not cut as significantly as was earlier feared.
He expressed disappointment at not getting agreement on new or increased tobacco taxes and getting rid of the business discount for submitting the Sales Tax.
He said June revenues should be above estimates by $20-$30 million and an additional $45 million was brought in under tax amnesty. FY 2009-10 should close out with a $1.2 billion deficit, he said.
The budget numbers do assume Pennsylvania will receive all or a portion of the $850 million in federal Medicaid funding with an understanding adjustments will be made later if needed.
If the Senate and House act tomorrow, this will be the first "on-time" budget in the 8 years of the Rendell Administration.
The full FY 2010-11 budget spreadsheet is available online.

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