Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2nd Warning: House Republicans About To Raid Environmental Funds To Balance The Budget

ABC27 News reported Monday evening a group of conservative House Republicans lead by Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams) has a plan to balance the state’s FY 2017-18 state budget by what he called “pots of money, funds, and idle accounts” saying they “discovered the state’s sitting on billions of dollars.”
“Why would you go borrow the money and pay interest on money and raise taxes if you have taxpayer money sitting right there?” Rep. Moul told ABC27.
While Rep. Moul did not go into detail about which funds, it is very clear he and his group are looking at the list of special funds drawn up by the Commonwealth Foundation that identifies over $3 billion in funding for what the Foundation calls the “Shadow Budget Programs.”
These funds are not shadow programs at all, of course, they fund important programs ranging from public transportation, agriculture and local environmental projects.  (The list does include the $65 million Entertainment Production (Film) Tax Credit, which could be better spent elsewhere for permanent benefits.)
The Foundation list includes these environmental programs to fund local projects in communities by local governments and farmers--
-- Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund - $131.9 million
-- Recycling Fund - $105.8 million
-- Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund - $78.6 million
-- Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund - $66.9 million
-- Resource Enhancement and Production (Farm Conservation) Tax Credit - $10 million
As noted previously, these members are apparently not concerned that those available balances are needed to pay off the cost of grants and contracts issued two and three years before to local governments, communities, nonprofit groups and contractors as well as fund new projects.
It was last Tuesday PA Environment Digest issued the first warning that special funds were at risk from House Republicans.
Rep. Moul is the same legislator who is leading an effort to all but abolish the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
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