Statewide Environmental Coalition Recognizes Conservation Committee Chairs Marcellino And Dinapoli

Carl L Marcellino

February 08, 2006

(Albany, NY) – As the new state legislative session gets underway in Albany, environmental and conservation organizations are praising two state lawmakers for their leadership and dedication to protecting New York’s public health and natural resources. In January, Sen. Carl Marcellino and Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli introduced legislation that would dedicate $300 million per year for the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by 2009.

"Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman DiNapoli are dedicated legislative advocates for critical environmental funding," said Henry Tepper, New York State Director for The Nature Conservancy. "When we showed them that New York’s environmental spending had remained flat for years, even as the size of the state budget had grown by over $20 billion, they responded. The Environmental Protection Fund Enhancement Act, which they sponsor, has been introduced in both houses of the Legislature. This is a super bill, one that will protect the health and quality of life for New York families for years to come."

The EPF, New York’s premier environmental funding law and a national model for responsible fiscal management, is primarily funded through revenue dedicated from a portion of the state’s real estate transfer income. For seven years, it was funded at $125 million annually, falling far short of documented need in areas such as wilderness and farmland preservation, park stewardship, recycling, and breast cancer research. This year, Gov. George Pataki has proposed an increase in the EPF to $180 million. At the same time, however, real estate transfer tax revenue has grown enormously, from less than $200 million in 1997 to more than $900 million today.

"New York is right to take some of the money it collects through the transfer of real estate and put it back to work for the environment," said Audubon New York Executive Director David Miller. "Development affects our communities. One of the best antidotes to sprawling growth is to invest resources in planning and preservation. New York has been smart to use some of the money it collects due to rapidly expanding development to protect existing community character and natural resources. That way, families will be better able to enjoy their way of life while at the same time welcoming newcomers attracted by what makes each neighborhood unique. By preserving land and habitats, we protect wildlife, including birds, for future generations to enjoy."

"In Albany, we appreciate the way Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman DiNapoli have been able to break through the partisan divide and deliver important environmental benefits for their constituents and all New Yorkers," said New York League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Marcia Bystryn. "This year they have agreed to help us increase the Governor’s proposed EPF appropriation to $200 million. Best of all, they have introduced the EPF Enhancement Act, which would add another $100 million in dedicated real estate transfer revenue by 2009. With that kind of investment, we are confident that New York’s environment will remain healthy and diverse."

Friends of New York’s Environment (FONYE) is a coalition of more than 200 local, state and national environmental groups working to protect our air, land and water. FONYE worked with Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman DiNapoli to draft and introduce the EPF Enhancement Act (A.9283/S.6356). The two lawmakers were joined by over 20 representatives from coalition groups at a Capitol press conference in January to announce introduction of this landmark legislation. The bill has already passed the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, and passage in the Senate committee is expected soon.

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Friends of New York’s Environment c/o The Nature Conservancy 415 River Street Troy, New York

For Immediate Release: February 8, 2006

For Information, Contact: Willie Janeway – 518-273-9408 - Jeff Jones – 518-265-0719