Budget Updates and Clarifications as of 2/15/17

Budget Updates and Clarifications as of 2/15/17

Update on CIA! (good news)
Update on CEQ! (really bad news)

REMINDER! 
Take action TODAY to oppose budget cuts impacting DEEP, State Parks & CEQ

Update on CIA!  Some good news!  Yesterday, we learned that the Governor’s office and OPM clarified their position on the Community Investment Act in the budget offered last week.  The Governor’s budget does not call for an extension of the 50% cut in CIA over the course of the next biennial budget which begins on July 1st. Under this proposal CIA dollars would be fully restored on July 1st.

Caveat!  Of course, this is just the beginning of the biennial budget process. Over the next four months, the Appropriations and Finance Committees and legislative leaders will begin the process of crafting a budget that will require the support of both chambers and Governor Malloy.  We must continue our work to protect the CIA.  Please continue to share your community's CIA success stories with your legislators.  

Update on CEQ!  The news is really, really bad!  Earlier this week we reported that the budget proposed ZERO funding for CEQ.  Yesterday we learned that Governor's H.B. No. 7051, a budget implementer bill, repeals Conneticut General Statutes section 22a-11 (the statute establishing the Council) and removes all references to the CEQ from the statutes.  We've learned that this is the first governor’s proposal for complete elimination of CEQ from state statutes since 2003 and a major blow to environmental protection in the state.

Thank you!  We will continue to keep you apprised of updates and opportunities for you to take action.

 

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS TODAY!

TALKING POINTS 

Message:  I OPPOSE BUDGET CUTS THAT HURT DEEP, STATE PARKS & CEQ (Appropriations Committee Public Hearing 2/17)

What:   On February 8, Governor Malloy released the FY 2018-2019 CT State Budget and among items of concern are budget cuts that directly impact critical funding and services that protect our environment, safeguard public health, and contribute to our local and state economies.

How:  Email your testimony OPPOSING these cuts to APPtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Please include your name and town.  Please cc your legislators and bcc CLCC.

Public Hearing Information:  A Public Hearing on the budget impacts to all agencies under consideration that day (DEEP, CEQ, Agriculture, others) will be held  by the Appropriations Committee on Friday, February 17 at 4:30 pm in room 2C of the Legislative Office Building. Please contact abpaterson@ctconservation.org if you would like to testify at the public hearing.

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).

 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, ASSISTANCE WITH SUBMITTING YOUR TESTIMONY AND/OR WITH ATTENDING THE PUBLIC HEARING CONTACT ABPATERSON@CTCONSERVATION.ORG

 Save the Date for CIA Day (3/8)!  Details coming soon.