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State Budget Negotiations in Full Swing

New York’s Senate and Assembly have released their proposed budgets and there is good news. They’ve joined the governor in proposing to keep funding for the Farmland Protection Program at $12 million in Fiscal Year 2012-2013. They are also proposing maintaining the Environmental Protection Fund, which pays for the Farmland Protection Program, at $134 million.

Growing the Environmental Protection Fund with Unclaimed Nickels

New York Capitol with fountainsWhat’s more, both the Assembly and Senate are seriously looking at increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund in Fiscal Year 2013-2014 by redirecting revenue from unclaimed bottle deposits that currently goes into the general fund. The state collects approximately $115 million from unclaimed bottle deposits annually. If adopted, this proposal would phase revenue from unclaimed bottle deposits into the Fund over a four-year period. This new funding would be in addition to the Fund’s principal funding source, a state real estate transfer tax. The budget is due to be finalized at the end of March and the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo are actively negotiating the final budget now.

Currently the Senate and Assembly differ slightly on the mechanics for phasing Bottle Bill revenue into the Environmental Protection Fund. It is critical for supporters of the Farmland Protection Program to call Governor Cuomo and state legislators right now to tell them how critical increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, which helps protect farmland from development, is to the business of agriculture!

What is the Environmental Protection Fund?

The Environmental Protection Fund was created by the New York State Legislature in 1993 to allow the state to invest in projects that protect the environment and enhance communities by preserving land, including farmland protection, managing solid waste, and providing for parks, recreation and historic preservation. The Environmental Protection Fund serves as the most significant source of funding for environmental projects in communities across the state. Recent research by the Trust for Public Land has shown that every $1.00 invested in the Environmental Protection Funds yields $7.00 in benefits for New York State residents. A recent statewide poll found that nearly 70 percent of New Yorkers believe that the state can have a clean environment and strong economy at the same time.

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