HARRISBURG, Sept. 20, 2011 – State Sen. John N. Wozniak announced today that he is drafting legislation to create a Disaster Relief Fund in Pennsylvania using a portion of the Johnstown Flood Tax.
“It’s time to recognize that natural disasters are a fact of life in Pennsylvania and we should be prepared,” Wozniak said. “This will be a Real Rainy Day Fund that will allow us to act quickly the next time nature overwhelms local communities.”
” With more roads and buildings covering the land, the so-called ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ weather events are occurring with more frequency, and this legislation will recognize that.”
Wozniak said his legislation would annually set aside 20 percent of revenue from the Johnstown Flood Tax for the creation of a statewide Disaster Relief Fund. Using current revenue estimates, the fund would receive about $56 million per year. If the fund balance reaches $250 million, any additional revenue would go directly to the state’s most critical road or bridge projects.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said yesterday that nearly 2,000 suffered major damage from the flooding cause by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
The proposed legislation would shift part of the Johnstown Flood Tax toward its original purpose, Wozniak said.
“It was a good idea 75 years ago,” Wozniak said, “but over time it was used to plug holes in the General Fund. With more roads and buildings covering the land, the so-called ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ weather events are occurring with more frequency, and this legislation will recognize that.”
The legislation would require a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly to use the Disaster Relief Fund for any purpose other than direct relief, Wozniak said.