DEP Regulatory Review Process
By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
On Friday, Jan. 26, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a plan for speeding up the permitting process in Pennsylvania. This was of particular interest to me as I spend a great deal of time trying to resolve permitting issues for businesses and individuals alike.

While I applaud Wolf for finally addressing the problem, I do have an issue with some of his logic and delivery. Wolf started his press conference by blasting Republicans for cutting the Department of Environmental Protection’s budget by 40 percent.

While it is true that the DEP budget was cut, it was done under both the Rendell and Corbett administrations, Democrat and Republican respectively. The budget had been $220 million and is now $147 million – a reduction of $73 million.

Here is where I have a problem with the governor’s narrative. After being critical of the reduction in funding, he makes the statement that through “better management practices” and “technology” they are increasing efficiency in a pilot program. Okay, so they figured out a way to get the job done with less funding. That is exactly what we are trying to accomplish with what has become a bloated state government.

Wolf went on to say that they would like to increase staffing by 35 people. Even if each of those staff people cost the state $120,000, that is an increase cost of $4.2 million. That is a far cry from a $73 million reduction over the past ten years and may illustrate exactly why the General Assembly and past governors decided to cut DEP’s budget.

In the private sector, businesses are subject to the free market system and many times are forced by the system to become more efficient. Sometimes the only way to force efficiency in government is to reduce funding. Unfortunately it took way too long to accomplish this objective.

Again, while I applaud Gov. Wolf’s desire to make the permitting process more efficient for the people of Pennsylvania, there is still room for continued efficiency at the DEP.