A Different Take On Budget Plan For The DEP

DEP Secretary Mike Krancer
Delaware County Times

Rep. Greg Vitali’s recent letter wrongly asserts that Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget would weaken the Department of Environmental Protection. Also, in a real sense, Rep. Vitali has “met the enemy” on what he complains about, and the enemy is himself.

Both Rep. Vitali and former DEP Secretary Hanger fail to mention that the staff reductions they are protesting now actually happened under the Rendell-Hanger administration.

In actual dollars, the Rendell-Hanger cut to DEP in the 2009-2010 budget, which laid off 138 DEP employees, was more than six times greater than Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

In terms of percentages, Gov. Ed Rendell’s cut was four times greater than Gov. Corbett’s current proposal. This is the second year in a row that Gov. Corbett has closed a huge budget deficit with a proposed budget that calls for zero furloughs at DEP.

Rep. Vitali also misrepresents DEP’s budget. It is $607 million overall, with $126 million coming from the state’s general fund and the rest from dedicated federal and state sources.

DEP is proud to be a partner in delivering on the governor’s promise to reform the way we do government in Pennsylvania by being more efficient and customer-service-oriented while returning DEP to its basic function: protecting the environment.

Rep. Vitali also got it wrong in regard to alternative fuels programs. Pennsylvania already has numerous programs, besides the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant, to support alternative fuel development. In addition, Act 13, which Rep. Vitali voted against, will include $20 million over three years for a “clean energy” fleet vehicle conversion program, with half of those dollars set aside for mass transit.

Rep. Vitali misrepresents what is happening with funding for recreation and conservation, as well as Farmland Preservation. Act 13 contains nearly $10 million — climbing by about $4 million each subsequent year — for community parks, open space and recreation purposes. Act 13 also contains new money for the Environmental Stewardship Fund, which includes farmland preservation.

Finally, Rep. Vitali is wrong to suggest using air emission permitting fees for anything other than their dedicated purpose — ensuring the fair administration of clean air laws. Permit fees are user fees and cannot be shifted to the general fund for use who knows where. That is precisely the kind of irresponsible fiscal management that the voters elected Gov. Corbett to change.