On June 22, the Pennsylvania Senate passed and sent to the governor a $32.7 billion General Fund budget bill for 2018–19 (HB 2121) that includes funding for 35 new positions at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but few changes in other environmental funding line items.
The fiscal code bill that follows the General Fund budget bill—this year, HB 1929—includes provisions creating the new Private Dam Financial Assurance and Loan Program, direction to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) on developing ATV trails, and more funding for small water and sewer projects.
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Wolf left his first three General Fund budget bills become law without his signature.
The additional positions requested by Wolf in the General Fund bill will go to several programs: high-hazard dams, ensuring adequate air monitoring, oil and gas drilling, and reviewing sewage expansion requests.
The proposed $153.2 million in General Fund support for DEP remains just above the 1994–95 appropriation of $147.7 million.
While appropriations for the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basin Commissions remain the same as the current fiscal year, they are still $1.18 million short of Pennsylvania’s fair-share contribution.
General Fund support for DCNR increased, but its budget remained flat overall. More General Fund support means $12.4 million less will need to be withdrawn from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund—$48.7 million—to support administrative costs. In fiscal year 2017-18, $61.2 million was withdrawn from the fund to support DCNR personnel and other costs.
The budget for the Department of Agriculture includes the $3 million requested by the governor to deal with spotted lanternfly, an invasive pest.
Here are some of the details from the General Fund budget.
- General Fund: $153.2 million (up from $146.4 million*)
- Conservation Districts: $2.5 million (same as last year)
- West Nile Virus: $5.378 million (up slightly from $5.239 million)
- Black Fly: $3.357 million (same as last year)
- Delaware River Basin Commission: $217,000 ($676,000 shortfall from fair share)
- Susquehanna River Basin Commission: $237,000 ($504,000 short fall from fair share)
*Note: additional funding is for the Governor’s proposal to hire 35 additional staff for high-hazard dams, ensuring adequate air monitoring, oil and gas drilling, and reviewing sewage expansion requests.
- General Fund: $121.2 million (up from $105.2 million*)
- Heritage Parks: $3.025 million (up from $2.875 million)
- $2.5 million unspecified state park infrastructure projects
*Note: $12.4 million less withdrawn from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to support administrative costs.
Department of Agriculture
- General Fund: $151.2 million (up from $143.8 million)
- Spotted lanternfly control: $3 million
- Conservation Districts: $869,000 (same as last year)