Proposed Budget Threatens Sustainability Progress
Jan. 19, 2010
Contact: Dan Hendrick, (212) 361-6350 ext. 206
NEW YORK - New York State's natural resources - its air, water, landscapes and environmental programming - will face significant and long-term consequences if Gov. David Paterson's 2010-2010 Executive Budget is enacted, according to the New York League of Conservation Voters.
"During these challenging economic times, the burden of turning our state around must be shared equitably across all sectors. The disproportionate cuts being proposed to environmental programs threaten to derail hard-fought progress and further diminish New York's faded status as an environmental leader," said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn. "Sustainability should be the cornerstone of a robust, 21st century economy, and we look forward to working with Governor Paterson and state legislative leaders to maintaining our economic and environmental progress."
The budget Gov. Paterson proposed today calls for cutting the Environmental Protection Fund by nearly one third, from $212 million to $143 million - one of the largest cuts to any major program in the state budget. That disproportionate cut would come on top of approximately a half-billion dollars that have been redirected from the EPF to other state programs in recent years. The EPF plays a critical role in protecting New York's forests, the Great Lakes and Hudson River, waterfront revitalization, recycling, pollution reduction, and funding zoos and botanical gardens.
The Department of Environmental Conservation faces a staff reduction of 54 positions, at a time when the state is undertaking one of the most complex initiatives in its history - highly controversial natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation - that could have long-term consequences for New York's environment. DEC has still not recovered from damaging staff reductions implemented in the 1990s, and the new cuts threaten the timely review of critical economic development projects.
New York's vaunted park system also faces serious cuts. Gov. Paterson has proposed a nearly 20 percent overall budget cut to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. If enacted, the budget will further reduce operations throughout the park system, including delayed openings and early seasonal closings. OPRHP has already endured five rounds of budget cuts and a workforce reduction of nearly 1,000 people.
The proposed cuts would erode state parks' ability to generate economic activity. A recent study by the University of Massachusetts' Political Economy Research Institute documented that New York's state park system generates $1.9 billion in economic activity every year - five times OPRHP's total annual budget - and accounts for 20,000 private sector jobs. Nearly half that economic activity is from visitors outside the immediate areas in which the parks are located.
The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, policy-making and political action organization that works to make environmental protection a top priority with elected officials, decision makers, and voters by evaluating incumbent performance and endorsing and electing environmental leaders to office in New York State.
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