May 20, 2020
Re. Oppose HB 2004
I write on behalf of the 70 member organizations of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and the more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians supporting them. We are dismayed that members of the House might essentially bring an end to the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the acclaimed nonpartisan, nonpolitical investment program that makes long-lasting infrastructure improvements in communities, creates jobs, and boosts local economies across the state.
We urge you to oppose HB 2004, which would so damage the key features of the hugely successful Keystone Fund that it would continue to exist only in name.
The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund delivers a vast range of benefits. When we go to a playground, a park, a trail, or a nature preserve, we experience the tangible products of the Keystone Fund. While discussions often focus on these obvious public infrastructure benefits, the economic benefits are huge:
- As with most capital improvement investments, it supports planning, engineering, and construction jobs in the development of park, trail, library, higher education, and other infrastructure.
- Those facilities in turn employ people in maintenance and program delivery on a perpetual basis.
- Keystone investments generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, ranging from these jobs to recreational purchases to improved property values. Every dollar invested returns more than $7 in economic value in natural goods and services alone. The economic benefits are documented in the numerous economic impact studies housed at https://conservationtools.org/conservation-benefits
Year after year, the Keystone Fund has delivered tangible results for Pennsylvanians. Keystone capital investments made a quarter century ago are still delivering benefits to Pennsylvanians today. You can review the enormous scope of benefits delivered at https://keystonefund.org/.
It’s ironic that as Pennsylvanians use our local and state parks, trails, and other community open spaces in record numbers that legislators would contemplate essentially destroying the investment program that made a great deal of this green infrastructure possible.
Since its 1993 establishment with an overwhelmingly approved voter referendum, a 48-0 Senate vote and 196-3 House vote, the Keystone Fund has effectively and efficiently built lasting legacies in our communities.
When Democrats and Republicans joined to create the automatic appropriation of realty transfer taxes to the Keystone Fund and allocation to the various investment types 27 years ago, they did this to ensure that the state would not fail to make these crucial investments; guard against political processes that could undermine the effectiveness of the investments; and create reliability for the huge number of organizations and small businesses that have to carefully plan their budgets, payrolls, and other operations created by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Make no mistake. HB 2004 would undo the very features of Keystone that make Keystone effective. A vote for HB 2004 is a vote to essentially end the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund in all but name.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Andrew M. Loza
cc: member organizations