“This year’s budget is truly extraordinary and keeps the Hudson Valley on the path forward to protect our unique quality of life and opportunities for lasting economic gains. Scenic Hudson thanks Governor Cuomo for his leadership in proposing an Executive Budget that will safeguard all of the state’s irreplaceable natural assets and for working with the Legislature to secure its passage,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.
“Through the 2018 budget, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have demonstrated their commitment to safeguarding the sources of our drinking water and the Hudson River, as well as conserving productive farmland, open spaces and parks. This is a ‘green infrastructure’ strategy that will show how the Hudson Valley and New York State are leading the nation in innovation and environmental quality,” said Scenic Hudson Public Policy Director Andy Bicking.
Water-quality investment sets new standard for New York State
The three-way budget agreement between the governor, Senate and Assembly includes a $2.5-billion, five-year investment in water quality through the governor’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act proposal. This initiative builds on investments made in the previous two budgets and addresses one of the state’s most pressing environmental challenges—contamination of drinking water due to aging water infrastructure. The initiative includes $110 million for a new category of state action, “source water protection.” This will ensure that drinking water is protected at its source through innovative green technology like bioswales and manufactured wetlands, as well as through targeted land preservation of catchment areas for wellheads and reservoirs. Source water protection is widely regarded as the most cost-effective means to provide clean water.
The final budget also includes $200 million over the next three years to complete an uninterrupted trail from Battery Park at Manhattan’s tip north through the Hudson Valley to Canada, and also create a fully connected, off-road route from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal.
Environmental Protection Fund
Building on years of bipartisan support and agreement between the governor and Legislature, the final 2018 budget allocates $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Established in 1993 and renewed annually through the state budget, the EPF is the state’s dedicated source for grants and funding for critical programs that conserve family farms supplying local food to communities, protect majestic views that are a cornerstone of the Hudson Valley’s $5.2-billion tourism economy, and manage the Hudson River Estuary. Together, these funds benefit every county in New York State. EPF investments create jobs, eliminate solid waste, prevent pollution and invasive species, and revitalize urban areas and waterfronts. A recent analysis by the Trust for Public Land found that for every $1 invested in the EPF, $7 is returned to New York State. Through various programs, the EPF supports more than 350,000 jobs across a spectrum of industries.