Press Releases

Statement of the Adirondack Council on State Environmental Budget Priorities

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Adirondack Council applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal today for continuing its focus on many of the state’s environmental priorities, including the needs for clean water and open space. Given the strain on the economy to date, we are pleased that the majority of environmental programs have been continued. 

The Council also urged the Governor to avoid being timid in his efforts to stimulate economic recovery in the state and pointed to environmental programs as a way to increase employment while making the state a better place to live and work. As part of that effort, the Adirondack Council further urged the Governor not to accept the failure of his 2020 proposal for an Environmental Bond Act, but bring it back this year and give the public an opportunity to embrace it. 

Finally, the Council urged the Governor to add funding to his environmental agenda later in the year, should newly elected Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer succeeds in obtaining enhanced federal funding for the state. 

Budget Highlights: 

The Environmental Protection Fund receives $300 million in the Governor’s plan, the same as the current budget. He proposes no staffing raid (no staff salaries covered by EPF funding). That's important because this is a capital account. Salaries would drain it. 

To deal with High Peaks, visitors, and overuse issues: 

$1.265 million increase for State Land Stewardship 
Within the State Land Stewardship account: $800k for Essex County Overuse (down $400,000 from last year) 
Visitor Interpretive Centers still funded at $120,000 (Newcomb, SUNY-ESF) and $180,000 (Paul Smiths College) 

Community support: 

$250 for Adirondack Diversity Initiative (same as current budget). This is the third year of funding for the new program. 
$13.3 for programs to control invasive species (same as current budget) 

The major drop in capital funding expressed in the Governor’s budget is the Bond Act not being in the budget this year. For some reason, the chart double counts the $3 billion, so you get -$5.9 billion once you add increases in other areas. 

There is another $500 million for clean water funding that will help communities pay for multi-million-dollar water and sewer systems and upgrades that would otherwise fall on the backs of local taxpayers.  

Open Space/Forest Preserve: 

$30 million for Open space protection (down $1 million from current budget) 

Staff: 

Permanent staffing is held flat for rangers, conservation officers, and other jobs that would handle visitor surges, education, facility upgrades and new trails. There is an increase in 16 Full timers, spread across the DEC’s administration and clean air division. This is likely to pay for Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act implementation. 

COVID-19: 

In the spring of 2020, the Adirondack Council called upon the Governor and State to prioritize regional economic development investments in health care and first responder infrastructure.  The park is dealing with a huge increase in visitors and new residents, yet has not seen a commensurate increase in state investments in health care facilities and capacity.

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