Pennsylvania zoos again targeted for budget cutbacks

    By: Scott Detrow

    Pennsylvania zoos are again targeted for proposed budget cutbacks by the Rendell administration to the tune of 2.2 million dollars for the upcoming fiscal year. Zoo directors say it’s an annual threat but the General Assembly always restores funding. This year may be different, as WHYY’s Scott Detrow reports.

    By: Scott Detrow

    Pennsylvania zoos are again targeted for proposed budget cutbacks by the Rendell administration to the tune of $2.2 million for the upcoming fiscal year. Zoo directors say it’s an annual threat  but the General Assembly always restores funding. This year may be different, as WHYY’s Scott Detrow reports.

    Transcript:
    Zoo directors say Rendell tries to cut state funding every year.  Stacey Johnson explains.

    Johnson: “I’ve been director of the Lehigh Valley Zoo since 2007, so this will be the third time I’ve been through the process and it’s been cut from the budget each year. And we go back and work with the legislators to see if we can’t get it put back in. So far we’ve been successful every time.”

    That’s what happens with most line items that were originally proposed by lawmakers-the governor will cut them, and the General Assembly will put the money into the final budget.  But Johnson says he’s concerned that in the bad economic climate, his operation won’t get the $90,000 it’s counting on.  He says that pays for almost a months’ worth of operating costs.

    Officials at the Erie Zoo say they typically get between $350,000 and $400,000 worth of state assistance, and cuts will mean layoffs and the elimination of outreach programs.  Johnson and other zoo officials will argue their case to lawmakers over the coming months.  The budget deadline is June 30th.

    Listen:
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    [audio: reports20090309zoos.mp3]

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