Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Growing Greener Coalition: 125 Organizations+ Oppose Raid On Special Environmental Funds

The PA Growing Greener Coalition Tuesday issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to the ‘Taxpayer Caucus’ budget proposed cut of over $450 million from environmental funds--
“Today, a handful of Republican House members presented a revenue proposal that relies heavily on special fund transfers, including transfers from Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund, the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund and the Agriculture Conservation Easement Fund.
“Each of these funds provide critical investments in local communities in order to address a growing list of conservation, recreation and preservation challenges facing the state.
“By raiding these accounts, this group of legislators discount the critical work being accomplished and the jobs these projects produce. These are not just numbers on a page – these are real Pennsylvanians who will be affected.
“These funds go towards protecting our water, building our community parks and trails, maintaining our state parks and forests, protecting our family farms, promoting our state’s heritage and tourism, and much more.
“It is unclear, at this time, just how many Pennsylvania businesses and communities will be affected if this proposal is accepted.
“It is also unclear whether the proposal would target previously dedicated funds for state and local parks, farm and open space conservation, environmental protection and other community projects.
“Many of the account balances referenced by the House members include funds obligated to projects, but not yet dispersed.
“This proposal misses the mark of addressing the real budget issues facing the state.”
125 Organizations+
In addition to the statement, the PA Growing Greener Coalition distributed a sign-on letter to House members last week urging them to reject environmental special fund transfers. The letter garnered the support of more than 125 organization and community leaders, along with 34 County Commissioners.
The following is the text of the letter to House members--
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.
Click Here for the growing list of organizations and officials signing on to the letter.
The PA Growing Greener Coalition is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in Pennsylvania.
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