Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly supported a fund to help pay for parks, trails and open space in 1993, when they passed a referendum by a ratio of 65 percent to 35 percent.
Since then the Keystone Parks, Recreation and Conservation Fund, paid from a share of real estate transfer taxes, has helped more than 3,000 projects in the state, including 73 in Cumberland County, 69 in Dauphin, 42 in Lebanon, 26 in Perry and 120 in York.
Baseball fields, trout streams, hiking trails, community pools, bicycle paths, nature centers, scenic views and much more have benefited from the fund.
Now Gov. Tom Corbett is seeking to permanently get rid of it, sending the money to the general fund budget instead.
Activists say it is the largest proposed cut to conservation in the state’s history.
Monica von Dobenek’s whole article is worth the read. I think this needlessly confuses the issue though:
Of course, conservationists are not alone in protesting cuts at the state level, which Corbett have said are necessary to balance the budget in tough economic times without raising taxes, which he has pledged not to do.
Advocates for public education, universities, the disabled, horse racing and the poor have all been protesting state cuts.
That’s all true, but the problem is that it doesn’t get at what’s so messed up about stealing dedicated revenue.
Voters decided, in 1993, to raise their own taxes over and above what’s needed to cover General Fund spending, in order to pay for these conservation programs. That’s what these taxes are for. Corbett has no business diverting this revenue to the General Fund. If he needs more General Fund revenue, which I would agree with, then he needs to either raise tax rates or cut tax exemptions. You can’t just steal revenue that voters approved specifically for conservation programs.