Wednesday, June 29, 2011

FY 2011-12 General Fund Budget To Governor, Continuing Severe Rendell Cuts To Environmental Protection Programs

After five and a half hours of debate, the House voted 109 to 92 to send the General Fund budget bill- -House Bill 1485 (Adolph-R-Delaware)-- to the Governor for his signature. The House continues marching through other legislation.

Funding for both the departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources were slight below the proposal made in March by Gov. Corbett: DEP- $4.5 million less and DCNR- $3.1 million less. Click Here for more details on environmental funding changes.

On the Marcellus Shale drilling impact fee issue, efforts in the House and Senate by both Republican and Democratic members fell apart after Gov. Corbett specifically threatened to veto any impact fee bill sent to his desk before the Governor's Marcellus Shale Commission submits its report in July.

There were no steps taken to renew the nationally recognized Growing Greener Program.

During the last eight years of the Rendell Administration, DEP's General Fund budget has been cut by 40.9 percent ($245.6 million to $147 million), DCNR by 23.7 percent ($108.8 million to $82.4 million) and the Department of Agriculture by 35.2 percent ($76.1 million to $62.8 million) from the FY 2010-11 to FY 2002-03 budget.

The Rendell Administration did finalize permit fee increases totaling about $27.7 million to in-part to offset some of these cuts, but they in no way made up for them.

Complement levels at DEP were reduced from 3,211 in FY 2002-03 to 2,776 now, even less if you take out the 105 positions DEP added for the Marcellus Shale drilling inspection and permit program.
In addition, over 100 DEP Air, Waste and Water Quality field staff use all or part of their time to act as managers for federal stimulus projects, projects funded by the Energy Harvest and PA Energy Development Authority programs taking time away from permit reviews, inspections and compliance activities.
The FY 2009-10 budget cuts alone required DEP and DCNR to furlough or eliminate 333 full time positions. DCNR had to eliminate or reduce hours for 1,131 seasonal workers, putting appropriations for DEP at 1994 levels and for DCNR at 1995-96 levels.
The new budget will further reduce DEP complement levels by 69 positions.
One result of all these cuts is the permit review backlog DEP said was already building in 2009 and in truth the last 7 years, delaying hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development projects across the state.
Complement levels at DCNR were 1,391 in FY 2002-03 to 1,389 positions of which 1,289 positions are filled.
House Republicans put out a summary of the General Fund budget as well as a line item summary of appropriations.

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