Budget Update as of September 28, 2017

Budget Update as of September 28, 2017

Budget Passes.  Governor vetoes.  And so it begins.

Your Continued Action is Needed!

The State’s fiscal year ended June 30 without passage of a biennial budget.  Starting July 1, the beginning of the 2018 Fiscal Year, the Governor established a budget through an executive order.

Throughout the regular sesssion, various budget proposals were presented with, among other items of interest, funding for CEQ, the Community Investment Act (CIA), and a Passport to the Parks program to fund State Parks; but details were scarce and nothing solidified.  

Budget updates are as follows:

On September 28:  From the CT Mirror:  "Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivered Thursday on his vow to veto the Republican budget unexpectedly passed with a handful of Democratic votes, calling it a gimmick-laden measure that would consign Hartford to bankruptcy, devastate public higher education, invite certain lawsuits from state employees and add to Connecticut’s pension liabilities."  View full article here.

On September 16:  From the CT MIrror:  "The Republican proposal won approval in the Democratic- dominated House, where six majority-party members helped pass it, 77-73 despite Malloy’s promise of a veto"... View full article here.   

On September 15, as posted by David Sutherland (Director of Govt Relations, The Nature Conservancy of CT) in the CT Environmental Leaders Listserv:

  • Democratic Senators Doyle, Hartley, and Schlossberg voted for the Republican budget amendment. I don’t get how that impacts the Democratic budget that the Bill Status page says was already adopted by the Senate. Perhaps it’s worded so as to strike wording in Amendment A, but I don’t see it.  And who knows what the House will do with all this – unless several House Democrats support it, we start all over again with the budget.  Senate caucuses are going into caucus now.  When you go to Bill 7051 on the CGA website, it might come up with today;s amendments or it might come up with the bill’s status as of a couple of months ago. If it does that, try changing “Bill” on the bottom bBill search to “LCO” and look for 10072 for the R’s amendment or 10069 for the D’s amendment. The R’s amendment includes the Passport to the Parks, not sure how those numbers jive with the D’s version; it seems to preserve CEQ, it diverts $10 million from RGGI funds, seems to preserve the Community Investment Act. It re-separates DEEP and PURA.  Link to R’s amendment: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/amd/H/2017HB-07501-R00SB-AMD.htm 

On September 14, after months of negotiations, the Democrat's agreed upon a budget. At this point it's unclear whether either chamber has the necessary votes to approve this amendment. The House attempted to take this bill up, but failed to go into session. The Senate may attempt to take up the amendment today sending it down to the House.  With respect to CLCC priorities::  

  • CIA:  Upon quick review this amendment appears to restore 100% of CIA funding by allowing the July 1st sunset stand. We will need to continue to confirm CIA remains at 100%. Stay tuned. 
  • CEQ:  From Karl Wagener, Executive Director, Council on Environmental Quality:  "Here is the good news: The version of the budget that Democratic leaders are hoping to adopt (Amendment LCO 10069 to Bill 7501) appropriates full funding for the CEQ for the biennium. This year, the funds would be from the General Fund. Next year (FY 19), the funding would come from the Conservation Passport Fund (aka the Passport to Parks Fund). Nearly every vehicle registration, new or renewal, will include a $6.00 fee (3.00 per year) which will be deposited in said Passport Fund, which would be used for state parks, soil and water councils, and the CEQ."
  • Passport to the Parks:  See above under CEQ

On September 12, the House and Senate Republicans released a joint budget proposal.  Observations include the following:

  • CEQ:  The CEQ is fully funded in this budget. Previously, when those caucuses had separate budget proposals, the CEQ was in the Senate Republican budget but not in the House Republican one.
  • CIA:   The proposal reportedly calls for a 100% sweep of CIA funds for 2 years.  The dairy support funds would not be part of the sweep and would remain in the fund.  Please check back for further updates.

On September 8, Governor Malloy released a new budget proposal.  Observations and insights include the following::

  • From CLCC Steering Committee member David Sutherland (Director of Governoment Relations, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut) as posted on the CT Environmental Leaders' Listserv on September 8:  "Governor’s latest budget released today.  It’s pretty difficult to decipher what they’re doing to DEEP. They see[m] to be cutting $7.7 Million in FY18 and $9.96 M in FY 19, but they’re establishing the Passport to the Parks Program and seem to be giving DEEP $6 M in FY18 and $11.5 M in FY 19.  But some other figures seem (notice the frequent use of “seems”) to differ from those.  The proposal cuts CEQ from $171,781 to $68,369.  I cannot find any mention of diversion of [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] RGGI, Energy Efficiency, or Community Investment Act funds.  It expands the bottle bill to cover juices, teas, and sport drinks."
  • From Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Executive Director Karl Wagener regarding the proposal's impacts on CEQ:  "Today Governor Dannel P. Malloy released a revised budget proposal that includes much reduced funding for the CEQ. It does not include position counts, but from the amounts in the document I have to infer that the Environmental Analyst position would be funded and the Executive Director position would not. This is an improvement over previous proposals from the Governor."

Stay tuned!  We will continue to keep you posted.  You can follow budget updates using the CT Mirror Budget Tracker

Meanwhile, thank you for your advocacy throughout the session.  Your outreach to your legislators has truly made the difference in keeping funding for CEQ, CIA and other land conservation priorities in the mix and trending in the right direction.  Please continue to contact your legislators urging them to protect land conservation priorities including:

CIA funding is now back in full force since the 50% cut instituted through the last biennial budget ended on June 30 2017.  However, the next quarterly distribution from the CIA will not hit the agency's account until October 1.  Until then the agency will rely upon the reserves it has in its open space account, most of which is committed for projects approved in previous grant rounds.  For the grants submitted Feb. 2, the agency will likely be making decisions on funding in early Fall.  Any sweeps or cuts of CIA funds approved as part of the next biennial budget may impact the number and amount of the grant awards.  Things are very uncertain right now.  
 
It is good news that the Governor's proposed compromise budget, the Democrat's proposal and the Republican proposal approved by the legislature appears to maintain CIA funding at 100%.  However, with the Governor's veto of that budget, and an override highly unlikely, we are back to square one; the CIA is far from secure.  We will continue to work with our partners in the CIA Coalition to support CIA funding, but we will likely NEED YOUR HELP!
 
Please continue to contact your legislators to share your OSWA project success stories and thank them for their continued support of full funding for the CIA.  
 
More information: 

If you have any questions, please contact me anytime.

With best regards,

Amy

Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director
abpaterson@ctconservation.org
860-614-8537

P.S. View our regular legislative session Re-Cap.