STOP THE BUDGET CUTS TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
April 21, 2011
|Photo by Maury Eldridge
The Massachusetts House Committee on Ways & Means recently released its Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal. If cuts made to the Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Conservation and Recreation(DCR), Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, and Division of Ecological Restoration/Riverways stand, there will be reduced staffing and closures at DCR pools and parks, additional significant layoffs (DEP has already lost a third of their staff), fewer inspections and enforcement, and drastically reduced technical assistance to municipalities
- The Commonwealth invests less than a penny on the dollar for environmental programs - or 0.58% of the state budget.
- Over the past four years, funding for environmental agencies has been cut by almost 25%!
- The Department of Environmental Protection has lost 325 staff since FY04 (peak of 1,215) and has seen an 18.6% drop in funding over the past two budgets.
- The Department of Conservation and Recreation has lost 170 positions, or 18% of its staff, and has seen a 25% drop in funding since FY09. According to a Beacon Hill Institute Report, we spend less than half the national average on parks and recreation - or $62.90 per person compared to the national average of $138.72.
Clean air, water, parks, and endangered species need you – contact your state representative asking for their support of the following amendments to increase funding to these vital environmental agencies:
Amendment #566 (Rep. Gobi) and # 266 (Rep. Smizik)
DEP Administrative–Amendment #566 would increase DEPfunding to $24.5 million from the $21.5 million being proposed in the House budget and Amendment #266 would raise a number of DEP accounts up to stable levels. DEP is responsible for implementing the Commonwealth's environmental laws, ensuring clean air and water, the safe management of toxics and hazards, the recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. DEP’s budget has been cut by 40% in the past three years. Cuts of this size will result in decreased enforcement, slower permitting, and less oversight and environmental protection. DEP cannot enforce critical laws and regulations if it does not have staff to do the work. Please support this necessary increase for DEP!
Amendment #563(Rep. Gobi) and #206 (Rep Donato)
DCR Parks –Amendment #s 563 and 206 would increase DCR’s budget to $42.2 million from the $40.9 million being proposed. DCR manages the ninth largest park service in the nation, with nearly 500,000 acres of protected land, including state parks, urban parks, and public watersheds that attract over 35 million visitors annually. Over the past decade, visitor services and routine maintenance of the forests and parks have greatly suffered. The lack of adequate staffing and physical maintenance poses potential public health and safety liabilities. The annual operating budget for the combined divisions of DCR has been reduced by over 30% in recent years.
Amendment #432(Rep. Turner)
Division of Ecological Restoration/Riverways- The House proposal is down to a mere $350,000 for the outstanding, award-winning Riverways program - cut by nearly 50% in just the past few years. Amendment # 432 would increase Riverways budget to $410,000. Please support funding to protect and restore Massachusetts’ rivers, streams, wetlands and water quality!
Amendment #578 (Rep. Gobi)
Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program- Heritage remains without state operating funds, leaving endangered species protection supported by unstable and dwindling bond money, federal aid, voluntary state tax check-off contributions and permit fees. Amendment #578 would restore the line item and provide $250,000 in funding for this outstanding, nationally-recognized program.
PLEASE CALL YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE TODAY! The House budget debate begins on Monday.
- Give your name and town.
- Ask to speak to the Representative. If he or she is not available, ask to speak to a staff member. You can also send an email.
- Encourage them to support the above House budget amendments. Tell them you support these amendments and would like to see them accepted into the final House Budget. These amendments would restore vital funding to some of Massachusetts' most valuable environmental services.
If you know your representative's name, you can just call the House switchboard and be put through: 617-722-2000. If not, locate the name and contact information of your state representative by visiting:
THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN MASSACHUSETTS!
Page updated April 21, 2011