Saturday, July 22, 2017

Growing Greener Coalition Urges Senate, House Members To Protect Local Environmental Restoration Project Funding

The PA Growing Greener Coalition Saturday sent a letter to all members of the Senate and House encouraging members to oppose any budget revenue plan that involves diverting monies from the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Funds and the state’s agricultural land preservation program.
House Republican leadership included these diversions in their proposed revenue plan to support the state’s $31.996 billion General Fund budget they passed on June 30, but have not yet fully funded.
In a twist, House Republicans are talking about structuring the transfer language to give Gov. Wolf the authorization to make the transfers, if the budget needs the funding, but ultimately giving him no choice but to make the transfers.
Legislators are meeting Saturday and Sunday to continue discussions on a revenue package.
The text of the letter follows--
As discussions continue on the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year budget, we, the undersigned business and community leaders, elected officials, and organizations, strongly urge you to protect special funds for conservation, recreation, and preservation programs critical to the protection of our land, water, and heritage.
We recognize current budget challenges, but we also recognize that the Commonwealth cannot achieve prosperity by cutting crucial investments in Pennsylvania’s future – investments that bring lasting improvements to our communities and contribute so much to our economic and environmental health.
We request your leadership in opposing proposals that reduce or eliminate dedicated funding to programs that protect our land and water, strengthen our communities, and protect our families.
We want to emphasize and reiterate the importance of keeping intact the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Farmland Preservation program.
Now more than ever, Pennsylvania needs to increase and optimize its investment in local efforts to protect our open space, preserve our family farms, support parks and recreation, and preserve our historic and cultural sites.
The investments made by these successful and time-tested programs in conservation, recreation, and preservation are proven to bolster the economy. For example, a Trust for Public Land study on the Keystone Fund found that for every $1 invested in land and water conservation, the Commonwealth saw a $7 return on investment in goods and services.
Public polls show strong, consistent, and bipartisan public support for programs that improve our quality of life, boost the economy, and protect the environment throughout Pennsylvania.
A survey released by Penn State found that more than 90.7 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed support increasing state funds dedicated to protecting rivers and streams; conserving open space, forests, natural areas and wildlife habitats; providing parks and trails; and preserving farmland.
The survey also found that more than three-quarters of respondents, 82.6 percent, would support increasing state funds to address these threats to our environments, even if it would cost the average household $10 more annually.
The people of Pennsylvania feel that these conservation, recreation, and preservation programs offer substantial value and must not be diminished.
We recognize the challenges ahead and look forward to working with you to ensure that funding for programs that protect our open space, preserve our family farms, support our parks and trails, and safeguard our historic treasures remain intact.
Thank you.
Andrew Heath, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Growing Greener Coalition website.  The Coalition is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth.  Click Here to sign up for regulation updates, Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter.  Click Here to support the Coalition’s work.
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