Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday proposed a $32.7 billion General Fund budget along with $2.7 billion (Republicans say a $3.6 billion) increases in personal income, Sales, tobacco, Bank Shares and insurance premium taxes. He also proposed a new severance tax on natural gas production, with a credit toward the drilling impact fees paid, to go into the General Fund, and an increase in the state waste disposal fee from $7.25 to $9.00/ton.
The proposal includes $50.9 million in additional funding for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to take another step toward weaning the agency off the Oil and Gas Lease Fund revenue.
The proposed budget would increase the state waste disposal fee by $1.75/ton with the resulting $35 million in revenue to be deposited in the Oil and Gas Lease Fund (page H48) to help make up for the loss of revenue from DCNR natural gas royalties to the Fund.
The existing and new waste fees are also proposed to be expanded to construction and demolition and residual waste which are not now covered. Captive waste landfills would remain exempt from the per ton waste fees.
The current fees are $4.25/ton to pay debt service for the Growing Greener II bond issue (it was used annually to fund Growing Greener Projects), a $2.00/ton recycling fee and a $1.00/ton minimum host community benefit fee.
The fee increase and expansion are necessary to allow the continued transfers out of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund and the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund required by Act 13.
$35 million is to be transferred to the Environmental Stewardship Fund and $15 million to the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund in FY 2016-17.
A change in law is needed to raise and expand the waste disposal fee. If the fee increase is not enacted, there will be reduced funding available for both the Growing Greener and Hazardous Sites Cleanup programs.