Referring to it as “the most monumental state budget for environmental funding in state history,” the Open Space Institute today applauded the New York State funding agreement which confirms New York State’s status as a national leader in fighting climate change and protecting natural resources.
The spending plan includes approval of a $4.2 billion environmental bond act which will go before the voters in November, a new record-setting $400 million funding level for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, and establishes a new baseline to support and improve state parks and public lands.
“Without question, the budget is a clean sweep for clean water, a healthier planet, improved parks, flooding solutions, and healthy communities,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. Congratulations and enormous thanks to Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie and all legislators who are taking action to help save our planet, protect our state’s resources, and create jobs.”
In addition to the environmental bond act, the newly enacted budget expands the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to $400 million for the upcoming fiscal year. The fund is New York’s most important source of funding for a range of critical environmental protection projects, such as meeting the growing demand for parks and greenspace for people and wildlife, safeguarding New York’s clear air and water, and protecting working farms.
Also included among the striking budgetary victories was a $250 million commitment to improve state parks and make them more welcoming to the public. Elliman noted that this new baseline support level marks a dramatic turnaround for New York State Parks, which just ten years ago had a capital budget of only $29 million for the care and upkeep if its more than 200 state parks and historic sites.
The new spending plan also includes an agreement to reform New York’s freshwater wetlands program and protect at-risk wetlands that are critical for clean water, wildlife habitat, and stronger communities throughout the state.