New Report Documents Diversion of Funds Earmarked for Environmental Projects

Author: 
Environmental Advocates of New York
Date: 
01/04/2010
Source: 
Environmental Advocates of New York
Advocacy Issue: 
EPF Highlights in 2010

 

Environmental Advocates of New York released a report last week revealing for the first time how executive meddling, staff shortages and bureaucratic red tape are strangling New York's environmental trust fund. According to the report,Tied Up In Knots, the Environmental Protection Fund has been raided to the tune of $500 million since it was established back in 1993. And since 2002, one in every four Fund dollars has been "swept" into the State's General Fund. Worse yet, actions taken by Governor Paterson have made it even harder for Fund dollars to reach environmental projects. 

The Governor and State Legislature have taken $185 million from the Fund for non-environmental purposes since 2008, including $10 million in the recent budget deficit reduction agreement. Because of these transfers and cuts, New York State is having a hard time meeting its commitments to local governments and not-for-profits that have already secured funding for projects such as fixing up community parks, encouraging recycling, and protecting working farms. 

Before he releases his budget proposal next month, we're calling on Governor Paterson to stop hacking away at New York's environmental programs. Instead of smashing this green piggyback, the Governor should cut the number of bureaucratic reviews (21!) tying up dollars meant to protect our environment and create new jobs.

The report documents a failure to spend resources allocated to environmental projects due to executive interference. In 2008, Governor Paterson gave New York's Division of Budget veto authority over each and every Environmental Protection Fund dollar, allowing bureaucrats to stop payment on state contracts and block projects. The Governor now has the power to put a hold on Fund expenditures, allowing it to accumulate big balances and leaving these monies ripe for budget relief. 

To get Fund dollars to deserving projects-as intended-we propose simplifying grant applications and reviews. By getting monies flowing to environmentally beneficial projects, it becomes less likely these resources will become the target of budget officials looking for a quick fix.