More than two dozen Assembly Democrats mailed a joint letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week, urging him to “meaningfully” boost environmental funding in his upcoming budget proposal.
The letter, which was led by Assembly Environmental Conservation Chairman Robert Sweeney, D-Suffolk County, and 28 other lawmakers, expresses “concern” with the lack of environmental projects outlined in Cuomo’s State of the State last week and calls on him to increase funding to the Environmental Protection Fund, which helps pay for conservation projects across the state.
Cuomo will deliver his budget address on Tuesday.
“While we look forward to working with you in the coming legislative session to advance these important issues (outlined in the State of the State), we are concerned with the lack of attention to the need for continued investments in environmental conservation and restoration projects across the state, and hope that this important issue will be addressed in your upcoming budget,” the letter reads.
Cuomo and state lawmakers actually increased money to the Environmental Protection Fund last year, boosting it by $19 million to a total of $153 million. That followed several years of significant cuts during then-Gov. David Paterson’s administration, dropping it from a high of $255 million in the 2008-09 fiscal year.
The letter also references a proposed $5 billion borrowing proposal, sponsored by Sweeney and Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, that would fund needed upgrades to aging sewage systems and other environmental infrastructure in need of repair.
But Cuomo backs a separate bonding plan — $2 billion to fund technology upgrades in classrooms across the state. State law allows only one bonding proposal to be put on the statewide ballot per year.
Here’s the full letter: