Good News on the Environmental Budget!

April 26, 2011  - Today the House took up amendments to the House Ways and Means environmental budget that increased funding by a total of $3.9 million dollars. 

 Increases to the House Ways and Means budget included:  

  • $1.4 million for the main DEP account
  • $700,000 for DCR state and urban parks
  • Restoration of the line-item for the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program at $150,000
  • $60,000 for the Division of Ecological Restoration
  • $275,000 for recycling (had been zeroed out in HW&M's budget)
  • Inclusion of specific language to ensure that the Toxics Use Reduction Institute receives its share of funding
  • $300,000 for the Dept. of Agricultural Resources for its "buy local" programs
  • $527,000 for DCR's Office of Water Resources (includes a large earmark).
  • $500,000 for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife account within the Dept. of Fish and Game 

    Also included was language that directs DFG to detail a plan for a long term funding solution to dam repairs and maintenance including the feasibility of a revolving loan program and utilization of seaport bonds and directs DCR to develop a plan for long term funding solution for repairs and maintenance of seawalls.

While in the case of DEP and DCR these increases do not get us to the levels included in the Governor's budget, they are now a good starting point for our fight in the Senate.  It's not too early to contact your state Senator and urge him or her to support increased funding for our environmental agencies.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee will release its budget in mid-May.

 We want to thank our champions-Vice-Chair of HW&M, Rep. Steve Kulik, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee Anne Gobi, Rep. Frank Smizik, Rep. Carolyn Dykema, Rep. Cleon Turner, Rep. Jay Kaufman, and Rep. Paul Donato.   Please take a moment to thank these Representatives who made the case to their colleagues about the importance of our environmental agencies and programs.

 Also, thanks to everyone who made calls or contacted their House members during past week.  We heard from many House members that they were hearing from constituents.  Your efforts helped!

 On to the Senate-stay tuned.

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