Not So Much “Green” for the Greens

May 2010Newsletters In the Zone

Pennsylvania's environmental programs took some pretty hard financial hits this March. Gov. Rendell's proposed budget for 2010-11 was approved by the House of Representatives. And, the General Fund budget locks in previous years' funding reductions to "green" departments. The Department of Environmental Protection budget has locked in a 26 percent cut, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources budget locked in an 18 percent cut from last year—and proposes to cut even a little deeper.

This translates into a total of $321 million in cuts for the two departments over the last two budgets. DEP programs seeing even more paring of resources this year include personnel line items, sewage facilities planning grants, sewage facilities enforcement grants, stormwater management, conservation districts and others.

Piling on the bad news, the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released a report in March detailing its review of Growing Green II finances. The study confirms that nearly all of the $625 million in bond funds has either been spent or committed to projects. Debt service on Growing Green II bonds is paid from the Environmental Stewardship Fund. And as debt service payments increase from $30 million to $50 million a year, funding for green projects will be dramatically constricted. In fact, the Environmental Stewardship Fund receives about $65 million a year from landfill fees. After Growing Green II debt payments, only about $15 million will be left to subsidize environmental projects.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].