Recognizing that current financial and political realities limit Governor Wolf from once again proposing the larger level of reinvestments we need in green infrastructure, community walkability, environmental protection, and core community revitalization, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania nonetheless applauds the Governor for his continued efforts to find the ways and means to increase funding in the 2017-2018 Budget for many programs key to moving our state forward. We support his plans to impose a severance tax on natural gas extraction, as well as his proposed funding increases for green infrastructure, watershed improvements and our state parks and forests.
We are particularly gratified that the Governor’s budget dedicates $15 million from a proposed $387 million Commonwealth Bond Issue to fund three priority investments in watershed enhancements, including:
- $2 million to expand the Chesapeake Bay Riparian Forest Buffer Program at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR);
- $4.7 million in new funding for erosion and sediment management programs administered by the Department of Agriculture;
- $8.3 million in new local water quality investments by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
These investments will enhance and support local green infrastructure improvements in localities across the state, where policy makers and elected officials are committed to better storm water management, improved water quality and quantity, and the resulting placemaking and green space enhancements that can accompany such investments.
10,000 Friends has long supported a severance tax on natural gas extraction, so we continue to support the severance tax proposed in this budget, as well as the 6% increase in general operations funding for DCNR and the 2% increase in Environmental Protection operations funding. The proposed shifting of some DCNR funding from the General Fund with revenue from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, while not a long term structural solution, will result increased funding for the state forest budget (by $2 million) and the state park budget (by $4 million). This is clearly a case of trying to creatively make the most of a tough fiscal situation, but for the short term, it is the best we can realistically hope for and earns our support.
10,000 Friends supports these budget proposals, while also encouraging the Governor and legislature to pursue all opportunities to increase investment across the board in those areas so critical to supporting healthy and vital communities – community greenspace, environmental protection, green infrastructure, urban revitalization, sustainable community development and sound land use.