Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) unveiled a $22 billion state budget yesterday with numerous eco-friendly provisions that promise to protect green space, return abandoned mine sites to productive use, improve state parks, and revitalize aging city centers, asserting that such measures would spur economic development. Enviros hailed the budget, saying it would make Pennsylvania the top state in energy and environmental policy, but Republicans in the state legislature grumbled that it sent the wrong message to business. “He’s a tax-and-spend liberal,” said Rep. Jerry Birmelin (R). Despite the complaint, Rendell’s “Growing Greener II” initiative would be paid for not with new taxes but with $800 million in bonds, along with hikes in fees for both municipal and industrial waste disposal. Other states will watch Pennsylvania in coming years to find out whether environmentally forward-thinking policies are, as naysayers naysay, incommensurate with economic growth.
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