On Tuesday, February 1, 2011, Governor Cuomo unveiled his proposed 2011-2012 budget for the state of New York. New York State faces an approximate deficit of $10 billion dollars, which the governor has pledged to close through cuts to service rather than through new taxes and fees. After reviewing the Governor’s 2011-2012 budget proposal, Assemblyman Hevesi is relived to see that he and the governor agree that vital environmental initiatives, such as the Environmental Protection Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, should be maintained.
In his proposal, the Environmental Protection Fund, which pays for a wide array of programs covering areas like land conservation, water and air quality, and farmland protection, remains stable at $134 million. The funding stream dedicated to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a ten-state cooperative effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants by means of a cap and trade system, remains untouched. Historically, this has been the target of proposed reallocations to the general fund to plug holes in funding for education or health care initiatives. Also, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, after suffering annual loses of staff and resources, were spared staff cuts in this proposal.
“I am very encouraged to see that many of the dedicated funding streams that finance environmental programs have been protected in the governor’s budget proposal,” Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said. “This money funds programs that play a critical role in maintaining the health and cleanliness of our environment. I commend the governor for not sacrificing New York State’s natural resources in an attempt to make the budget more fiscally sound.”