Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy released his budget last Wednesday in a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly. We’ve reviewed the proposed budget for environmental impacts; here are our ratings and how the budget affects you:
Energy Efficiency and Renewables Investment
The state is leading by example and has set aside funding for energy efficiency and renewable investment for state buildings.
We give two green thumbs up for this investment to reduce energy spending and our carbon footprint. These investments not only reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, but create quality jobs that can’t be outsourced, all while saving the state money. Plus, funds to encourage clean energy innovation like solar, wind and geothermal and investing in microgrid technology make our communities healthier and more resilient to power outages.
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
This is a tiny agency but a mighty watchdog that monitors environmental progress and deficiencies.
We give one green thumb down for cuts that might eliminate important safeguards on our natural resources and public health.
Clean Water Fund
These critical funds help municipalities upgrade their infrastructure, continue the momentum for cleaning up Long Island Sound, and create thousands of engineering, construction, and other good green jobs. Two green thumbs up for preserving this important funding!
Although not in the fast lane, transportation didn’t quite take a back seat in the proposed budget. Connecticut is still rolling along with some funding for the Let’s Go CT program as well as additional planners, engineers and bridge inspectors to keep our infrastructure safe.
There is also funding for expansions of the CTfastrak bus service between Manchester and Storrs, as well as rail funding for Metro North, Shoreline East, and the new line from New Haven to Hartford. We’ll give this one green thumb up.
State Parks and Public Lands
We are glad to hear the commitments to keep parks open this year, but the state parks system has been subject to extreme cuts over the past few years which jeopardizes the future of our parks and open spaces.
This year’s recommended cuts to maintenance, improvements, and staff further threaten the public’s ability to enjoy our parks safely and could reduce quality of wildlife habitat.
Additionally, prolonging the severe cuts to the Community Investment Act — dedicated revenue outside the budget that provides consistent funding for open space, farmland/dairy support, and historic properties — hurts all of us. We’re giving this two green thumb down.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Forever on the chopping block, DEEP continues to be underfunded. As the federal government plans to roll back environmental protections and programs, we can’t afford to keep making cuts to the state agency that protects our land, air and water. Two green thumbs down for consistently under-funding this important department.