Published on Sunday, May 17 2015 11:42
Some details of the House's proposed budget as reported in the News and Observer:
Eliminates about 60 jobs. Many of the cuts would be to jobs that have been vacant for at least a year, but it also includes positions empty only for six months.
Increases the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, committing $12.5 million in the first year and $1.5 million in subsequent years. That would bring the fund up to about $42.5 million. Also increases funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
The Wildlife Resources Commission would take a 23 percent cut to money it receives from the general fund, although its overall budget would increase slightly.
I worked on saving funding for three university centers that work on energy issues, at N.C. State University, Appalachian State University, and N.C. AT&T State University. They faced recurring 7 percent cuts, which would jeopardize federal funding.
It doesn't include the Governor's proposal to move parks and the aquariums and zoo to the Department of Cultural Resources
Environmental measures which have been addressed this session have been labeled as a ‘retreat’ from regulations which have helped clean up our state’s air and water, and which provided a positive incubation for the development of solar energy.
In a front page article in the Charlotte Observer, which also appeared in the Sunday, May 10, 2015 edition of the Raleigh News & Observer, I was quoted on the many assaults on environmental issues, "I was sort of dumbfound that there was even more (Republicans) could do to erode environmental protections," said Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat. "But they found other opportunities." They further reported my concerns, "we used to be the beacon of enlightenment in the Southeast," said Rep. Harrison. "Now we're emulating South Carolina and Georgia."
Environmental leaders offered additional comments. Robin Smith, an environmental lawyer and former assistant secretary at DENR stated, "There just seems to be too little or no discussion about the legal or practical impact of these projects". The Director of the state Sierra Club, Molly Diggins said these changes to regulations put North Carolina at a crossroads. "These aren't small tweaks," she said. "These represent a significant change in direction."
NC Policy Watch featured a column by Amy Adams, former DENR official and Appalachian Voices advocate, on the repeal of buffer regulations.