Corbett Proposes $10 Million Increase In Farmland Preservation, DEP Staff Cuts

February 5, 2013

Gov. Tom Corbett Tuesday proposed an FY 2013-14 budget which increases farmland preservation by $10 million to $35 million, but would eliminate an additional 40 positions from the Department of Environmental Protection.
The General Fund appropriations for DEP would increase $639,000 and there is a $37,000 increase in the proposed Department of Conservation and Natural Resources budget.

The Governor’s budget would decrease the Department of Agriculture’s budget by $11.6 million, a 9 percent cut as a result of transfers to other special funds and programs and a reduction of an additional 11 staff positions.Here are some details--Environmental Protection
Overall the General Fund budget for DEP was increased slightly to $127.6 million from $126.8 last year, about $639,000.
-- 40 additional positions are proposed to be eliminated
-- Environmental Stewardship Fund Watershed Restoration- $3.8 million increase
-- Environmental Hearing Board increase of $165,000 for new regional office.
-- Sewage Facilities Planning Grants zeroed out for 2nd year- $436,000 cut.
-- Sewage Facilities Enforcement Grants zeroed out for 2nd year- $620,000 cut.
-- Conservation Districts zeroed out- $2.8 million (although made up in Act 13 drilling fees*).
-- $35 million in federal funds for a State Energy Program was not reflected in the budget.
Context: DEP General Fund budget in FY 2002-03 was $728.2 million, now reduced to $127.8 million, and its full-time salaried staff complement was 3,211, now reduced to 2,556 over the last 10 years.
Conservation & Natural Resources
Overall the General Fund budget for DCNR was increased very slightly to $52.760 million from $52.723 million, about $37,000.  Again this year monies from the Oil and Gas Fund, which includes revenue from drilling on State Forest lands, was used to cover DCNR personnel and other costs.
-- 1 position is proposed to be eliminated
-- Environmental Stewardship Funds increase of $2.5 million in grants for Community Conservation, Parks and Forest Facility Rehabilitation and Natural Diversity Conservation Grants;
-- Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund monies were kept within DCNR
Context: DCNR General Fund budget in FY 2002-03 was $322.9 million, now reduced to $52.76 million
Agriculture
Overall the General Fund budget for Agriculture was reduced to $117.8 million from $129.5 million, a cut of about $11.6 million, , a 9 percent cut as a result of transfers to other special funds and programs, including an additional $3.4 million in the General Operations personnel line item.  -- Eleven additional positions are proposed to be eliminated.
-- Farmland Preservation Funding increased by $10 million to $35 million
-- Resource Enhancement and Protection (Farm) Tax Credit funding retained at $10 million.
-- Conservation Districts zeroed out- $1 million cut (although made up in Act 13 drilling fees*).
-- PA Race Horse Development Fund withdrawal of $5.3 million
Context: Agriculture’s General Fund budget in FY 2002-03 was 274.3 million, now reduced to $117.8 million.
State System Of Higher Education
PA Center for Environmental Education - zeroed out for 3rd year a $368,000 cut
McKeever Environmental Center - zeroed out for 4th year a $213,000 cut
Film Production Tax Credit
$60 million in tax credits for film and television production proposed

* Corrected: Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling impact fees provide conservation districts about $5 million in 2013-- $2.5 million distributed to counties for districts from the PUC, $2.5 million to the State Conservation Commission for distribution to districts.  While cut of $3.8 million to the line items in Agriculture and DEP is less than the $5 million in Act 13 fees districts are proposed to get, the impact on individual county districts will vary.  Some may get less, some may get more that if the line items were made whole.
Click Here for the full budget document, proposed line-by-line appropriations and the Governor’s Budget PowerPoint summary. Click Here for a summary of the funding cuts for environmental programs over the last 10 years.