Environmental Highlights in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget for FY 2021
The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is proud to work in New York State, one of the nation’s leaders in safeguarding natural areas. And we applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo for including such a strong focus on environmental protection in the New York State Executive Budget Proposal, released last week.
His $33 billion, five-year commitment to the environment aims to preserve green spaces and enhance our access to enjoy them, combat climate change, improve air and water quality, and address the risks associated with powerful storms—all factors in fulfilling our mission.
The governor’s Climate Change Plan invests in environmental conservation and resiliency supported by the $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. This bond act is designed to reduce flood risk, create resilient infrastructure and revitalize critical fish and wildlife habitats by connecting streams and waterways, right-sizing culverts and dams, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, reclaiming natural floodplains, restocking shellfish populations and upgrading fish hatcheries, preserving open space, conserving more forest areas, replanting more trees, reducing contamination from agricultural and storm water runoff, and expanding renewable energy.
The plan also include $740 million in additional state funding for Resiliency and Environmental Conservation; $28 billion for green energy; and $1.5 billion for carbon-free transportation.
Additionally, the Executive Budget renews the highest-ever level of funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)—which supports several Trail Conference projects—and allocates significant capital funds to maintain and improve environmental and recreational facilities. This $300 million includes:
- $39 million for solid waste programs (up from $37,725,000)
- $89 million for parks and recreation (up from $88,200,000), to include funds for trail stewardship
- $20 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation program
- $152 million for open space programs (down from $153,425,000)
Other noteworthy proposals include launching a new round of the Clean Water Infrastructure Investment, a permanent fracking ban, banning single-use and packaging Styrofoam products, and a $145 million increase in capital spending for the Department of Environmental Conservation, including a staff increase. Proposed funding for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation decreases by $25 million, reflecting a decrease in capital spending.