Save the Sound Priorities for New York State Fiscal Year 2021-2022
The ramifications of COVID have left many states in the difficult budget position of deciding which programs to support and which to cut, and New York is no different. However, Governor Cuomo has pledged to do his best to keep current levels of funding for our state’s important environmental programs. Save the Sound supports the following efforts for the coming fiscal year:
CONTINUED FUNDING FOR CLEAN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE ACT AT $500 MILLION
Current clean water infrastructure investments are yielding significant results, however, continued investments to repair and upgrade our aging wastewater infrastructure and to keep drinking water safe and affordable are vital for all residents and local government. For every $1 million invested 17 local jobs are created in design, engineering, and construction, making this a driver of New York’s green economy. New York State needs to follow through on its commitment to invest $500 million in clean water funding for local communities in FY21-22.
FULLY FUND THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION FUND (EPF) AT $300 MILLION
The Environmental Protection Fund supports projects that protect and improve water and air quality, conserve critical open space, and sustain valuable environmental research and education. It enables NY State to leverage federal, local, and private dollars, investing in a healthy environment which in turn makes NY an attractive home for businesses and families. EPF funding should be maintained at $300 million in FY21-22.
REAUTHORIZE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BOND ACT
Save the Sound strongly supports the reauthorizing the Restore Mother Nature Environmental Bond Act. In our work we see the widespread need to design and build more projects that address the stresses our communities are facing due to the changing climate. The bond would fund projects that reduce local flooding, increase habitat for wildlife, conserve our critical natural resources, and reduce climate change. If passed, Save the Sound will work to support the passage of the bond in November.
PLANNING FOR PLUM ISLAND’S FUTURE
Federal legislation has taken Plum Island, New York, off the auction block and opened a path to permanent protection of its fragile wildlife habitats, historic buildings, and Indigenous cultural heritage—which can be realized if New York State steps up to the plate and becomes the island’s preservation champion. Save the Sound urges funding for:
- Additional staffing in NYSDEC Region 1 to ensure rigorous completion and oversight of final environmental remediation plans associated with the closure of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center
- Additional staffing in the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and/or the NYSDEC for timely advancement of open space conservation acquisition projects. This includes desirable interagency consideration of acquiring Plum Island, should it be offered by the U.S. General Services Administration to the State during the federal property disposition process. The two-year Envision Plum Island project report identified New York State as the preferred future owner of Plum Island. Stakeholders’ vision is for creation of “Plum Island Preserve,” achievable as a federal Public Benefit Conveyance requiring little or no State acquisition funding.
EXTEND THE PROHIBITION ON WATER SHUTOFFS
The New York State prohibition on water shutoffs is set to expire on March 31, 2021. With the ongoing pandemic, the need for secure access to clean water is more important than ever for New York households. It is critical that New York State extend the prohibition on water shutoffs. In light of the economic downturn which has disproportionately impacted low income communities and communities of color, we urge the legislature to put measures in place to address the accumulated water debt of these New Yorkers and forestall mass shutoffs when our current crisis passes.
ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS (“GREEN AMENDMENT”) FOR NY STATE CONSTITUTION
The Green Amendment will guarantee all New Yorkers the right to clean air, clean water and a healthful environment. The time is now to assert these rights for all New Yorkers, and in particular for residents of communities that have been disproportionately burdened by a concentration of polluting industries and infrastructure. As a national leader on environmental policy, New York should join the community of states who have already included an Environmental Bill of Rights in their state constitutions.
Together, we can make New York better for ALL of its residents.