PA state government is running a multibillion-dollar surplus that grows with each new report. It also has American Rescue Plan funds that must be spent before the federal deadline. This presents the best conditions in a generation for legislators to boost conservation and outdoor recreation investments. They won’t do so unless their constituents ask them to; conversely, they will likely boost investment if enough people ask!
Please contact your state senator and representative or their staff. If you previously did so, ask about progress on the matter and remind them to act.
They do need reminding!
- Identify that you are their constituent and state your community’s general or specific needs for state investments [if examples would be helpful, see sample needs and opportunities and sample messages].
- Note that the state’s American Rescue Plan funds and budget surplus provide a great opportunity to address these needs. If the state can’t make long-term investments in our future now, then when will it ever be able to do so? Note that the investments made today can provide an ongoing stream of health, economic, and other public benefits for years and generations to come.
- Ask them to support legislative initiatives (often referred to as “Growing Greener III”) and a 2022-23 state budget to make these investments happen. Further ask them to talk to their fellow legislators and legislative leaders about the need and opportunity to do something now.
Also, ask your family, friends, and associates to act. Each individual call and email has impact! The more of us who communicate with our elected officials, the greater the likelihood of success.
Although not necessary, if you wish to discuss legislation, here is some information:
Governor Wolf has called for injecting $450 million into a Growing Greener III using a portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan dollars. This dovetails with Republican initiatives in both the PA Senate and House. Senator Gordner’s SB 525 injects $500 million of American Rescue Plan funds into a Growing Greener III. The bill, which enjoys sponsorship by a bipartisan majority of senators (13 Republicans and 15 Democrats), has received second consideration by the chamber. Representative Culver introduced a House version as HB 2020, which enjoys bipartisan support with 26 Republicans and 19 cosponsors.
Use of American Rescue Plan funds for a Growing Greener III constitutes an investment in capital projects—in other words, things that last—that can be implemented now and will deliver huge returns on the investment for decades to come. From nature-based solutions that prevent flooding and stream degradation (including installation of riparian forest buffers, passive AMD treatment, and wetland restoration) to rehabilitation of parks and trails and protection of wildlife habitat that underpin a large part of the Commonwealth’s tourism and outdoor recreation economies, American Rescue Plan dollars can make a tremendous difference in the lives of Pennsylvanians.
Our various natural infrastructure needs are immense but the economic payoff in addressing them is huge. American Rescue Plan dollars applied to natural infrastructure would support myriad small businesses and good-paying jobs. Investing in Pennsylvania’s environment also makes strong fiscal sense. It is well established that state environmental investments provide tremendous rates of return—whether the measure is job creation and economic activity, avoided costs (such as public health and flooding), net tax revenues, or the wellbeing of people and communities.