Wednesday, May 20, 2020

PA Land Trust Assn. Urges House Members To Oppose HB 2004 Reallocating Keystone Fund

On May 20, the PA Land Trust Association sent a letter to all House members urging them to oppose House Bill 2004 (Ortitay-R-Allegheny) that gives the General Assembly the authority to annually reallocate monies from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
The text of the letter follows--
I write on behalf of the 70 member organizations of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and the more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians supporting them. 
We are dismayed that members of the House might essentially bring an end to the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the acclaimed nonpartisan, nonpolitical investment program that makes long-lasting infrastructure improvements in communities, creates jobs, and boosts local economies across the state.
We urge you to oppose HB 2004, which would so damage the key features of the hugely successful Keystone Fund that it would continue to exist only in name.
The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund delivers a vast range of benefits. 
When we go to a playground, a park, a trail, or a nature preserve, we experience the tangible products of the Keystone Fund. While discussions often focus on these obvious public infrastructure benefits, the economic benefits are huge:
-- As with most capital improvement investments, it supports planning, engineering, and construction jobs in the development of park, trail, library, higher education, and other infrastructure.
-- Those facilities in turn employ people in maintenance and program delivery on a perpetual basis.
-- Keystone investments generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, ranging from these jobs to recreational purchases to improved property values. Every dollar invested returns more than $7 in economic value in natural goods and services alone. The economic benefits are documented in the numerous economic impact studies
Year after year, the Keystone Fund has delivered tangible results for Pennsylvanians. Keystone capital investments made a quarter century ago are still delivering benefits to Pennsylvanians today. 
You can review the enormous scope of benefits delivered at the Keystone Fund website.
It’s ironic that as Pennsylvanians use our local and state parks, trails, and other community open spaces in record numbers that legislators would contemplate essentially destroying the investment program that made a great deal of this green infrastructure possible.
Since its 1993 establishment with an overwhelmingly approved voter referendum, a 48-0 Senate vote and 196-3 House vote, the Keystone Fund has effectively and efficiently built lasting legacies in our communities.
When Democrats and Republicans joined to create the automatic appropriation of realty transfer taxes to the Keystone Fund and allocation to the various investment types 27 years ago, they did this to ensure that the state would not fail to make these crucial investments; guard against political processes that could undermine the effectiveness of the investments; and create reliability for the huge number of organizations and small businesses that have to carefully plan their budgets, payrolls, and other operations created by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Make no mistake. HB 2004 would undo the very features of Keystone that make Keystone effective. A vote for HB 2004 is a vote to essentially end the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund in all but name.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Andrew M. Loza
Executive Director
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Land Trust Association website, Click Here to sign up for regular updates from PLTA, Like them on Facebook, and Follow them on TwitterClick Here to support their work.
Save the Date: PA Land Conservation Conference March 24-26 in Gettysburg.
2nd Move Against Environmental Funding
On April 21, House Republicans passed House Bill 1822 (M.Keller-R-Perry) by a party line vote to freeze funding for county conservation districts and from a series of environmental and other funds to support local parks, trails, farm conservation, environmental restoration and other projects.
The bill is now in the Senate for action.  Read more here.
Editor’s Note: $172 Million Just Sitting There: The Senate and House are still sitting on a $172 million surplus in their own operating accounts, but they don’t seem ready to repurpose the money to help taxpayers and real people during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more here.
Sacrifice is good… for other people in their view, apparently.
Click Here to read more about "legislative privilege" and hiding how the General Assembly spends taxpayer money.
3 Front War On The Environment
House Bill 2004 is part of a sustained attack on the environment by Conservative Republicans who have been fighting a three front war on environmental programs and funding for the last decade--
-- Starving environmental agencies for funding so they have to cut staff and programs and then turn around and say they can’t do their job [they’ve successfully done that];
-- Adding even more layers of bureaucracy and procedures to block environmental regulations, reduce environmental standards and give regulated entities more control over these programs; and
-- Using every chance they get to cut funding to support community-based projects to protect and restore the environment, improve recreation opportunities and land conservation efforts that real people-- voters-- overwhelmingly support [they’ve successfully done that].
So far the strategy is working.
These are the latest attempts, but they won’t be the last.
Related Articles - House Bill 2004:
Related Article - House Bill 1822:
Related Articles:
[Posted: May 20, 2020] PA Environment Digest

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