The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today unanimously approved legislation that would provide additional funding options to ensure that state parks would not have to be closed or services reduced because of budget cuts, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), who cosponsored the measure.
Senate Bills 962 and 963 would permit the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resource to use funds available to the agency through the Key ’93 Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund for the operation and maintenance of state parks. The bills would not mandate that DCNR use the money from those funds but would give the department that option should it need additional resources.
Yaw said the legislation is necessary to counter threats of state park closures, which he described as unnecessary and unwarranted “budget scare tactics.”
“The parks have become a pawn in current budget negotiations, and that is not fair to Pennsylvanians,” Yaw said, “It is especially unfortunate to threaten park closings at a time of year when people are planning vacations.
“This legislation will ensure that the parks stay open – even as we look to cut spending overall and fill the huge revenue hole we are facing,” Yaw said. “There is no doubt that this year’s budget will have to be bare-bones and we will have to make some tough choices. But throwing out worst-case scenarios and engaging in scare tactics is not the way to go.”
In May, the Senate passed a proposed budget, Senate Bill 850, which includes spending cuts and no tax increases. Yaw said Senate Bill 850 reflects the revenues that the state has on hand and would not mortgage the state’s future through increased spending and borrowing.
Senate Bills 962 and 963 now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Contact: Carol Milligan