Environment Committee Update
January 22, 2014

Contact: Darren Suarez

State Budget

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed on Tuesday a $142.1 billion spending plan for the coming 2014-15 fiscal year, including federal aid for Superstorm Sandy recovery.
The budget increases spending by 1.7 percent over the previous year. A surplus of $500 million is projected, marking the first time the state is in the black in recent memory. A $310 million surplus from 2013-14 is being put toward phased-in tax cuts that is expected to impact 2014-15 receipts.

The spending plan increases education aid by 3.8 percent, or $807 million, to a total of $21.8 million. Spending on the state’s Medicaid program is expected to be $58.2 billion, an all-funds increase from $55.6 billion.

The budget decreases total funding for DEC by $43 million, due to a reduction in Federal Funds. The proposed budget increases State operations spending by $1.8 million (.7 %) due to increases in personal service expenses.

The Executive Budget contains an increase of $4 million to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), resulting in a $157 million EPF for 2014-15. The budget contains an additional $135 million for New York Works infrastructure investment. The DEC will receive $40M for infrastructure  needs including, additional public access, air monitoring equipment, well head closures, E-business technology improvements, and health and safety updates.

Requires Emergency Back-up Power at Gas Stations (TED Part M)

The Executive Budget proposes to amend Section 192-h of the Agriculture and Markets Law to require that all retail gasoline outlets near I-87, I-90, I-84, I-88, I-86/State Route 17, I-81, I-390 and I-190 and evacuation routes be prewired for using a generator which is capable of providing adequate electricity for operations. The language also amends Section 1854 of the Public Authorities Law to authorize NYSERDA to provide grants for prewiring and access to a pool of generators administered by NYSERDA.

Pesticide Product Registration (TED Part H)

This legislation would make permanent the current pesticide registration fees and the specific timeframes for the registration of pesticides. The existing law is scheduled to sunset July 1, 2014. Additionally, the proposed language would require the reporting of all sales of each pesticide by county for the entire calendar year.

Brownfield Cleanup Program (REV Part Q)

The Executive Budget extends the Brownfield Cleanup Program for ten year, fairly consistent with the Business Council’s requested amendments. Under the proposed amended program, the credits remain as of right. The remedial and the tangible property credits are bifurcated; a no-credit fast track is created, and would expand the program to include additional sites. To be eligible for the tangible property credits, a property must be vacant for at least 15 years or vacant and tax delinquent for 10 or more years, the value of the property must be less than the cleanup costs, and be an economic development project. Additionally the program will remove sites from the program that have been in the program since June 2008 that do not complete cleanups by December 31, 2015 and sites in the program from June 2008 through July 1, 2014 that do not complete cleanup by December 31, 2017. The bill would also exempt hazardous waste generated at certain sites from fees and special assessments.

Superfund Program (PPGG Part I p.145)

The budget would authorize the State to issue an additional $100M in bonds to provide funding for the State Superfund Program. Currently, the State Superfund program is being supported by prior year’s bond authorization.

Hiring at DEC

On January 10, 2014, Governor Cuomo announced the appointment of former New York City Councilman James F. Gennaro as Deputy Commissioner for New York City Sustainability and Resiliency at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Mr. Gennaro served as a New York City Councilman from 2002 to 2013, representing portions of the Borough of Queens. He chaired the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection and authored environmental laws on such issues as reducing New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, reducing water and air pollution, creating climate change adaptation strategies, improving the City’s resiliency to major storms, restoring Jamaica Bay, increasing clean and reliable energy, and increasing brownfields cleanup.

Environmentalist Issue Letter Regarding Regulatory Reform

Approximately sixty New York State environmental organizations and non-governmental organization issued a joint  letter and  press release urging state Senate co-Presidents Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein to halt the Majority Coalition’s "dangerous plan" to arbitrarily repeal thousands of public health protections for the benefit of special interests.

Environment Committee Meeting

Next meeting is January 31, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in The Business Council’s 12 Corporate Woods Conference Room. Click here to Register. The meeting will focus on a review of the State Budget, and proposed legislation. A detailed agenda will follow in the near future.