Press Releases

NEWS Legislature Restores Key Adirondack Programs in Senate, Assembly Budget Resolutions

Friday, March 15, 2024

ALBANY, N.Y. – Leaders in the NYS Senate and Assembly restored funding to key Adirondack programs in their one-house budget proposals this week, adding money for scientific research, environmental career training and clean water that had been reduced in the fiscal plan released in January by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“We offer our thanks to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for restoring funding to these vital programs,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Raul J. Aguirre. “We also thank Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Deborah Glick and Senate EnCon Chair Pete Harckham for their efforts to restore this critical funding.”

“As we see expanding climate-related impacts in communities across New York, research is urgently needed to protect New Yorkers living on the frontlines of air pollution and climate change,” he explained. “The Survey of Climate Change and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems (SCALE) and the Timbuctoo Climate Careers Institute empower and link disadvantaged communities across the state in protecting clean air and water while fostering positive long-term climate justice outcomes.”

In both one-house budget plans, SCALE was restored to $2 million and the Timbuctoo Climate and Careers Institute was restored to $2.1 million.  Both received zero in the Governor’s proposal.  SCALE funding would go to a consortium of scientists and institutions who are partnering in this research effort. The Timbuctoo program is a joint effort to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the CUNY Medgar Evers College.

Aguirre said he was pleased to see both houses restore funding for municipal clean water projects statewide, proposing that the total amount available be, at a minimum, the same as this year, at $500 million. The Governor proposed to make many more Adirondack communities eligible for the funding by increasing the state’s matching funds from 25% to 50% of the project cost during her State of the State address.  However, her budget proposal halved the total amount available for clean water infrastructure projects statewide to $250 million.

The Environmental Protection Fund was restored to $400 million in the Assembly budget proposal and increased to $425 million in the Senate budget proposal. Both houses also rejected the Governor’s plan to raid this capital projects fund to pay for $25 million in daily operating expenses.

The Senate’s plan also restored $120,000 cut from the $420,000 appropriation for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, which helps provide anti-bias training and dispute resolution.

While the Governor’s budget set aside “up to $8 million” for Forest Preserve care and stewardship, the Senate’s budget plan removes the phrase “up to.” The Assembly plan proposes increasing the appropriation to $10 million. Both houses also added $500,000 for a High Peaks Info Center operated by the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Both houses are expected to pass their budget resolutions this week. Both houses will then enter direct negotiations with the Governor’s office. A final budget is due at the start of the state’s fiscal year on April 1.

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded, not-for-profit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the 9,300-square-mile Adirondack Park. One of the largest intact temperate forest ecosystems left in the world, the Adirondacks are home to about 130,000 New York residents in 130 rural communities.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action and envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities. The organization doesn’t solicit or accept government grants for its own use. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340

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