April 2011 Budget Amendments

Amendment #566 (Rep. Gobi) and #226 (Rep. Smizik)
DEP Administrative - The HWM proposal for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Administrative account is $21.5 million. The amendment, filed by Environment Committee Chairwoman Anne Gobi, would increase funding to $24.5million and the amendment filed by Representative Frank Smizikwould raise a number of DEP accounts, bringing them up to stable levels.  DEP is the state agency responsible for implementing the Commonwealth's environmental laws, ensuring clean air and water, the safe management of toxics and hazards, the recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.  DEP’s budget has been cut by 40% in the past three years. That drop in support results in decreased enforcement, slower permitting, and less oversight and protection of our environmental resources. This agency cannot enforce critical laws and regulations if it does not have staff to do the work. Please support this necessary increase for DEP!

Amendment #563 (Rep. Gobi) and #206 (Rep. Donato)
DCR Parks– The HWM proposal for Department of Conservation and Recreation Parks is $40.9 million.  The amendment, filed by Environment Committee Chairwoman Anne Gobi and also by Representative Donato, would increase DCR’s budget to $42.2million.  DCR manages nearly 500,000 acres of protected land, including state parks, urban parks, and public watersheds that attract over 35 million visitors annually.  This is the ninth largest park service in the nation.  Over the past decade, visitor services and routine maintenance of the forests and parks have greatly suffered.  The lack of adequate staffing and physical maintenance poses potential public health and safety liabilities.  The annual operating budget for the combined divisions of DCR has been reduced by over 30% in recent years. 

Read recent pressin the Globe about budget cuts and DCR.

Amendment #432
Division of Ecological Restoration/Riverways - The HWM proposal is down to a mere $350,000 for the outstanding, award-winning Riverways program - cut by nearly 50% in just the past few years. This amendment, filed by Representative Cleon Turner, would increase Riverways budget to $410,000. Please support funding to protect and restore Massachusetts’ rivers, streams, wetlands and water quality!

Amendment #578
Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program- Heritage remains without state operating funds, leaving endangered species protection supported by unstable and dwindling bond money, federal aid, voluntary state tax check-off contributions and permit fees. This amendment filed by Environment Committee Chairwoman Anne Gobiwould restore the line item and provide $250,000in funding for this outstanding, nationally-recognized program.

Mass Audubon also OPPOSESamendment #143, filed by Rep. Coakley-Rivera,which would gut the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. This amendment would take away any flexibility the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has to work with landowners to both protect our rare species and promote sensible development.  The work the Department of Fish and Games Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program does to protect our rare species is critical and this amendment would destroy the rare species protections in Massachusetts.  This amendment was heard last session in the Environment Committee and over 60 environmental organizations testified in opposition.