Talking Points on Budget Cuts
MESSAGE: I OPPOSE BUDGET CUTS IMPACTING OPEN SPACE, STATE PARKS, THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH
1) I oppose additional cuts to DEEP's Budget
Already operating on a bare-boned budget with minimal staff, DEEP is once again facing cuts that will impact programs that protect our air, water, and public lands, including those needed for the operation and maintenance of state parks and campgrounds. Revenue generating solutions should be considered to help avoid at least some of these cuts.
- Cumulative annual cuts to DEEP’s budget have severely compromised the agency’s ability to implement core programs and undertake key functions, including protection of the state’s quality of clean air, water, wildlife, and recreational resources.
- The proposed budget proposes the elimination of an additional 24 full-time positions. Budget cuts in previous years have significantly reduced staffing for DEEP’s environmental and conservation programs including a 20% reduction in staff over the last 10 years.
2) I strongly oppose the elimination of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Once again on the chopping block, the Budget proposes ZERO funding for the CEQ and the budget implementer bill ELIMINATES all references to CEQ in the Connecticut General Statutes.
- Created in 1971, CEQ is the state’s independent watch-dog agency that the public relies upon to, inter alia, monitor environmental progress, assess the efficacy of state environmental laws, policies and programs, and investigate alleged violations of environmental laws.
- Acting through its volunteer council and just two staff, with limited support from DEEP for administrative purposes only, CEQ provides the public with these services efficiently, effectively and at minimal cost ($174,000) to the state.
- CEQ Services include The Environmental Monitor (project information for the public under CEPA and for notices of proposed transfers of land), Annual Reports on Environmental Quality, Special Reports (most recently, “Energy Sprawl in Connecticut” …), monthly meetings and an opportunity for citizens to lodge complaints and otherwise voice concerns.
3) I oppose cuts to funding for State Parks and ask that the budget include new proposals to generate addition revenues that would offset the budget cuts and avoid closures.
- State Parks (like all DEEP programs) are chronically underfunded and have been subjected to successive annual budget cuts.
- The Budget proposal which continues this year’s cuts to the State Park’s budget into FY 2018 and 2019 means:
- A reduction in the seasonal workforce by 45%,
- Closure of three campgrounds
- Reduced hours and services for the public at various State Park and Forest facilities
- Vacancies as State Park and other environmental program staff retire or leave the agency will not be filled. (Note: over 35 vacancies this year that were not filled, and DEEP has lost over 200 positions over the past 10 years)
- I support proposals to generate additional revenues that would offset the anticipated budget cuts and avoid closures: Example: “Passport for the Parks” is a proposal which would both generate an estimated $14.3 million dollars/year from a $10 charge on DMV registration for motor vehicles (paid every other year), and would enable all vehicles with Connecticut license plates to enter State Parks for free. General Assembly will allow the creation of NEW sources of revenue to support the State Parks. (Other examples are HERE)
- A description of why your favorite State Park or Forest is important to you.
- A reminder that State Parks are worthwhile investments and economic drivers – providing over $1 billion in revenues each year and supporting over 9,000 jobs.
- Click HERE to view detailed talking points compiled by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA).