See our latest communication to the legislature to urge overrides of gubernatorial vetoes on key environmental funding. (7/16)
See the letter ELM sent to legislative leaders, on behalf of the Green Budget Coalition. We urge the legislature to override the Governor’s vetoes of environmental funding. (7/12/16)
Thank you to the 60% of the MA House that co-sponsored one or more of the Green Budget Amendments! Learn more.
1% for the Environment
Severe cuts to environmental agency budgets and staff reductions are preventing Massachusetts from living up to its potential. Right now, only about $230 million of our $38 billion state operating budget go toward environmental agencies, which includes Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), and Department of Fish and Game (DFG). If the recommended funding levels for the 8 line-items in the Green Budget were applied across the board to environmental agencies and the state budget grows at its typical pace, around 0.7% of state operating funds would go to environmental agencies. The recommendations are very modest, but put us on the right track toward achieving the Governor’s commitment of 1% for the environment.
In Massachusetts, we are the beneficiaries of a wealth of natural resources. It is our responsibility to ensure that we continue leading the nation in protecting our environment and the public's health. We envision a Commonwealth that has healthy communities, great parks, and clean, abundant water.
A healthy environment contributes to communities in many ways -- it supports public health, offers places to recreate, and attracts new residents and businesses. We envision a Commonwealth that provides clean air, access to locally grown food, resiliency to the impacts of climate change, and a fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.
Massachusetts boasts thousands of acres of public spaces that provide places to recreate and natural resources for clean water and wildlife habitats. Our vision is a Commonwealth known internationally for outstanding parks and conservation lands.
Clean, Abundant Water
Water is foundational for the health of our residents and the strength of our economy. We envision a Commonwealth that provides safe water sources for our drinking supplies and recreational activities, waterways that have adequate flow throughout the year, high functioning wetlands, and separated systems for wastewater and storm water to keep rivers and beaches clean.
Green Budget Highlights
- Department of Environmental Protection staffing is down 30% compared to FY2008.
- Department of Conservation and Recreation has lost nearly 400 full-time positions (30% of its workforce) in the last seven years.
- Eight Department of Conservation and Recreation properties are currently closed or unstaffed.
- Every dollar the state invests in Division of Ecological Restoration projects is matched by seven non-state dollars (i.e. federal and private grants).
- For every $1 million spent on restoration, the average economic output of Division of Ecological Restoration projects generates a 75% return on investment and creates or maintains 12.5 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Below are descriptions of line-items that are key to achieving the vision we have set forth for healthy communities, great parks, and clean, abundant water.
Climate Change Adaptation & Preparedness (Line-Item 2000-0101)
FY17 recommended funding level: $360,000
FY16 funding: $300,000
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is responsible for implementing strategies to ensure the Commonwealth can respond to impacts from climate change and improve our resiliency. Funding will support municipal assistance, improved data collection and analysis of vulnerabilities, and integrated planning to protect our transportation, energy and water infrastructure and public health. The investment we recommend will support interagency communication and coordination and the creation of a climate preparedness plan.
Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Compliance
FY17 recommended funding level: $35,425,000
FY16 funding: $29,520,600
The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has a broad set of critical responsibilities for public health and safety, including ensuring clean air and water, managing toxics, reducing solid waste, preserving wetlands and coastal resources, developing energy efficiency projects, and preparing for the impacts of climate change. Substantial budget cuts and staff reductions are obstacles to MassDEP’s ability to lead statewide planning, issue permits in a timely fashion, provide technical assistance, perform water quality monitoring, conduct inspections, and enforce state law.
MassDEP Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup (Line-Item 2260-8870)
FY17 recommended funding level: $17,292,000
FY16 funding: $14,409,900
The Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup ensures immediate and effective response to environmental emergencies, such as oil spills, as well as timely assessment and cleanup of sites that have been contaminated by hazardous waste. The Bureau's responsibilities include coordinating the MassDEP Emergency Response Unit, conducting cleanups of waste sites, restoring contaminated sites, and redeveloping brownfields. Brownfields are properties that are affected by environmental contamination and are found in virtually every city and town in the state. They represent some of the most complicated redevelopment challenges in our communities and some of our biggest opportunities.
Division of Ecological Restoration (Line-Item 2300-0101)
FY17 recommended funding level: $711,000
FY16 funding: $593,000
The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) within the Department of Fish and Game is responsible for protecting our rivers, wetlands, and watersheds to improve stream flow, protect drinking water, reduce flooding, and restore habitats. For every $1 million spent on restoration, the average economic output of DER projects generates a 75% return on investment and creates or maintains 12.5 full-time-equivalent jobs. Every dollar the state invests in Division of Ecological Restoration projects is matched by seven non-state dollars (i.e. from federal and private grants).
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Administration
FY17 recommended funding level: $7,230,000
FY16 funding: $6,025,000
Massachusetts has a well-established agricultural sector with over 7,700 farms, 524,000 acres of farmland, and 61,000 jobs. With more than 30 programs and services, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) helps consumers find local food and farm products and expands access to healthy, local food in communities where nutritious food options are limited.
DCR Watershed Management (Line-Item 2800-0101)
FY17 recommended funding level: $1,344,000
FY16 funding: $1,120,000
This program manages the drinking water supply for approximately 2.5 million residents of Massachusetts. Staff are responsible for ensuring access to lakes, ponds and rivers that are healthy and free of invasive species. This office provides scientific information, policy guidance, technical assistance, and resource management.
DCR State Parks & Recreation (Line-Item: 2810-0100)
FY17 recommended funding level: $55,634,000
FY16 funding: $46,362,000
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is responsible for the stewardship of over 450,000 acres of land which include parks, beaches, forests, pools, skating rinks and campgrounds. DCR has lost nearly 400 full-time positions (31% of its workforce) in the last seven years. These cuts have led to property closures, unstaffed campgrounds, shorter seasons for our pools and rinks, and fewer programs for children.
DCR Retained Revenue (Line-Item: 2810-2042)
FY17 recommended funding level: $18,000,000 (80% of $22,500,000 cap)
FY16 funding: $16,000,000 (80% of $20,000,000 cap)
The retained revenue cap needs to keep pace with the revenues DCR is generating so there continues to be an incentive for DCR to develop new revenue opportunities. Retained revenue enables DCR to keep 80% of the funds it generates through parking fees, restaurants and concessions, vendor contracts, and partnerships, with the remainder going into the state’s General Fund. For FY17 DCR is projected to bring in $22.5 million, which is $2.5 million more than the FY16 cap.
To learn more about funding histories for Massachusetts environmental programs, visit the Budget Browser provided by MassBudget.
The Environment and the Economy
A 2015 scorecard on state economic climate, ranked MA #8 nationally for Quality of Life, which includes environmental quality and recreational amenities. The quality of our environment and our workforce are key to attracting individuals, families, and businesses.
We must recognize that quality of life is an important intangible factor for businesses considering whether to locate or expand in Massachusetts. It is critical to understand that our environment and our economy are inextricably linked. For example, Massachusetts' agricultural sector features over 7,700 farms, 524,000 acres of farmland, and 61,000 jobs.
Our beautiful and diverse natural resources support a thriving tourism industry. Tourism generated $19.5 billion in direct spending and $1.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2014, while supporting over 130,000 jobs. One of the top 10 activities by tourists to Massachusetts was visiting state and national parks.
Land conservation and outdoor recreation are sound investments for the Commonwealth. In Massachusetts, every $1 invested in land conservation returns $4 in natural goods and services. In addition, the tax revenue from outdoor recreation spending amounts to $739 million per year. Although other New England states have a strong reputation for their outdoor recreation offerings, Massachusetts actually surpasses them when it comes to consumer spending on outdoor recreation, generating $10 billion per year -- more than New Hampshire and Maine combined.
Outdoor activity helps save $2 billion annually in Massachusetts from reduced health care costs. Just over half of adults in Massachusetts are getting 30+ minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days per week, or vigorous physical activity for 20+ minutes three or more days per week. For people of color and those with lower levels of education, the physical activity profile is worse. To combat public health issues like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, and reduce disease treatment expenses that are reactive, it’s important for Massachusetts to get more proactive about providing safe, high-quality, close-to-home recreational opportunities for people of all incomes, ages, and races. This is a matter of equity.
What You Can Do
Familiarize yourself with the state budget process.
Subscribe to ELM’s e-mail list to keep up-to-date with our budget advocacy. When you receive our Action Alerts, please contact your State Representative and State Senator to ensure that our elected officials are hearing from their constituents that funding for environmental programs matters.