Response to Governor Baker’s FY20 State Budget

Governor Baker released his FY20 budget and we thank him for the increases he included to support our environmental agencies. Building on increases adopted by the legislature last year, the Governor’s budget continues the restoration of funding for environmental protection, reversing the trend of significant cuts, and loss of staff in previous years.

Overall, the Governor’s budget increases environmental spending by 6% compared to last year. While we still have a way to go to reach our call for 1% of the overall budget for the environment, we are making progress.

“Our environmental agencies support a robust economy and a healthy public,” said Elizabeth Henry, President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “We commend the Governor for recognizing the important work these agencies do every day amongst growing responsibilities to address the effects of climate change. In particular, DCR Parks received a much needed modest increase that can go towards full time staff for unstaffed parks and to expand the Park Support Operations crew which is currently only 15 people for the entire state.”

“We are particularly grateful that Governor Baker has recognized the pressing need for a restoration in staff at MassDEP with his proposed funding increase,” said Gabby Queenan, Policy Director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance. “While this funding increase will still put MassDEP at a lower staff level than FY15, it represents a positive step forward in expanding the capacity of the agency tasked with protecting our water, land and air. We hope that the legislature will continue to improve on Governor Baker’s proposed funding for agency programs that are critical in providing support to our municipalities in addressing climate change impacts on our water resources, specifically the Division of Ecological Restoration and the DCR Office of Water Resources.”

Beyond the operating budget, we also applaud the administration for its inclusion of a new funding mechanism to raise revenues for the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund. This increase in the excise on real estate transfers will raise $137 million on an ongoing, annualized basis. These resources will be dedicated to helping communities become more resilient and prepare for the impacts we are already experiencing from climate change.

We turn to the legislature now and look to Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka to expand upon Governor Baker’s proposal for restored funding of our state environmental agencies in their respective budgets. Please join us at 10:00 am on Tuesday, February 26th in Room 428 in the State House for a briefing on environmental budget priorities for FY20.

Environmental League of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Rivers Alliance