Special Budget Update!

The Environmental Budget continues to Shrink 

The Governor's FY 2011 budget was released on Wednesday, January 27th and as expected, the environmental agencies have been hit once again.  The cuts amount to 6.4% on top of even more significant cuts the Governor made this fiscal year (called 9C cuts).  Compared with the final budget passed in FY 09, the environmental agencies have seen an 18% drop in funding!

The 6.4% figure is based on removing about $5.3 million dollars included in the Governor's environmental budget for recycling as those funds are dependent on the passage of an expanded bottle bill which the Governor includes as an outside section.  We also are not counting $1.6 million that appears in a DEP Toxics Use Retained Revenue account, as that amount will be passed through to UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute.  While we are very pleased to see this funding in the budget, for purposes of comparing apples to apples, we are omitting it from our calculations.

Those agencies with the biggest budgets - DCR and DEP - see the biggest hits.  All comparisons below are based on the difference between the Governor's FY 2011 budget recommendations and the most recent FY 2010 figures that include the 9C cuts.

Department of Environmental Protection -- DEP's administrative line-item which covers most of DEP's compliance and enforcement work is cut an additional $1.4 million.  Hazardous waste site clean-up (21E) program is cut by $1.5 million, and the brownfields audit program by about $400,000.  Again, all these cuts are on top of steep cuts during the last two fiscal years.

Department of Conservation and Recreation -- a big hit to DCR's administrative line-item of $470,000 on top of previous cuts, the watershed management program was cut by 57%.  We are trying to determine if any of that gap will be covered by other sources.  Stormwater management actually saw some restoration of funding as did the Office of Dam Safety, both of which were cut to the bone in FY 2010.  Beach preservation was cut an additional $500,000.  State and urban parks were cut an additional $3.3 million (7.4%) and the parkways snow and ice account was cut by more than $2.5 million.  Also included in an outside section of the budget was a provision to allow DCR to enter into long-term leases with outside entities to operate pools and rinks.

Department of Fish and Game -- no restoration of funding for the Natural Heritage Program.  No additional cuts to DFG's administrative line-item which had been previously cut.  Many of DFG's programs are funded through the Inland Fish and Game Fund (from hunting and fishing license fees) and these programs have been level funded.  Legislation recently passed that institutes saltwater sportsfishing licensing and DFG's budget includes a new $50,000 in revenue from that source.

Department of Agricultural Resources -- unfortunately the Agricultural Innovation Center that was completely unfunded this year still has not been reinstated.  The Integrated Pest Management program has seen a steep cut, however, the state has secured federal grants that will cover the program.

Because the Division of Energy Resources and the Department of Public Utilities are largely funded through assessments, these agencies did not see significant cuts.

In addition to the bottle bill, other revenue measures the Governor included in his budget as outside sections are a lifting of the sales tax exemption for candy and soft drinks, and language that would expedite the sale of certain surplus state lands.

We will be doing some additional line-item and agency analysis and are working hard on our Green Budget recommendations - to be published in mid-February.  We also are beginning our meetings with House members to push for restoration of funding for Green Budget priorities and thinking about some creative approaches we can take to draw attention to the need for adequate funding for protection of public health and the environment. 

 

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