This LTE was published in the Poughkeepsie Journal on January 23, 2016.
Environmental Fund Needs Lasting Resources
We agree with Poughkeepsie Journal’s editorial support for a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund (“Cuomo shows enlightenment on Environmental Fund,” Jan. 12).
Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo heard the public’s discontent regarding an inadequately funded Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and acted by increasing the fund, but he diverted funds intended to reduce carbon pollution to pay for it. To achieve the increase this year, the governor proposes using $120 million from financial settlements.
This one-shot source of funding will not support $300 million beyond a year. Going forward, the governor should use a recurring revenue stream like the real estate transfer tax (RETT) to support the EPF. Last year, RETT generated more than $1 billion and is expected to produce more in 2016.
According to the New York State Division of Budget’s Economic Review Outlook, from 2011-2015, RETT funds earmarked for the EPF have been a consistent $119 million a year.
The EPF serves New York communities well and deserves to be fully funded from a reliable and sustainable source now and in future budgets.
Elizabeth Moran is water and natural resources associate at Environmental Advocates of New York.