Troy, N.Y.-- Updated On April 10, 2017 - This week, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature came to a final agreement on the 2017-18 state budget. The budget includes critical investments in New York’s environment, including $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, which maintains last year’s historic level of funding, $2.5 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and continued capital investments in New York’s State parks and conservation lands with new capital funding to build the nation’s longest multi-use trail, the 750-mile Empire State Trail.
Audubon New York applauds Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders for their demonstrated commitment to protecting and restoring New York’s environment for the birds, people, and communities of New York.
April 4, 2017 - Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature passed legislation to extend New York State’s 2016-17 fiscal year budget after state lawmakers were unable to reach a final agreement on the 2017-18 budget by the April 1st deadline. This implements a temporary spending plan that will fund the State through May 31st, giving lawmakers more time to negotiate a final budget agreement. “While this is a departure from the on time budgets the state has seen over the last six years, Audubon New York greatly appreciates that the budget extender includes new appropriations for fiscal year 2018 that are critical to protecting New York’s environment, open spaces and clean water resources, for the benefit of people, birds, and other wildlife,” said Erin Crotty, Audubon New York’s Executive Director.
Contained in the extended spending plan, is $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which maintains last year’s historic level of funding. This funding provides vital resources for many Audubon New York priorities, including open space and farmland protection, natural resource stewardship, water quality improvements, and climate change mitigation and adaptation programs.
The extended spending plan also includes $120 million for capital rehabilitation and improvements to State parks and historic sites, building on the $1 billion “Parks 2020” initiative. The Department of Environmental Conservation will also receive $70 million for capital projects, and improving access to facilities on campgrounds and State conservation lands.
Audubon New York is also pleased to see $2.5 billion in the budget extender for state drinking water and waste water infrastructure. “We applaud Governor Cuomo, the Senate, and Assembly for their historic commitment to ensuring safe and reliable drinking water, as well as projects that protect the ecological health of our state’s water resources.”
The plan will provide, $1 billion for wastewater and drinking water grants to municipalities, $50 million for green infrastructure, and $245 million for water quality projects such as sewer treatment and storm overflow and non-point source pollution, including $25 million for road salt management and $110 million for land acquisition and buffers to protect freshwater resources at the sources. Additionally, New York City will get $200 million for projects in its watershed.
While this legislation is a critical step towards addressing the State’s nearly $80 billion backlog in water infrastructure needs, newly appropriated funding for clean water will require the passage of implementing legislation - which was not included in the extender - in order for new appropriations to be spent.
We look forward to building on the momentum of these historic investments as the Governor and Legislature continue to finalize the details and implementation of these environmental programs. Audubon New York commends Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders for their demonstrated commitment to protecting and restoring New York’s environment for the birds, people, and communities of New York.
Audubon New York is the state’s leading voice for the conservation and protection of natural resources for birds. Integrating science, conservation, policy and education, Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitat for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. With 50,000 members and 27 affiliated chapters state-wide, Audubon New York oversees seven sanctuaries and centers, from Long Island to western New York, and protects priority habitats, including more than 130 Important Bird Areas identified as critical for the conservation of birds.