March 1, 2010
Recommended Cuts to Critical Bay Clean-up Fund
Could Bring Federal Penalties
Bay Trust Fund is Key Tool for Achieving Two-Year Milestone Goal
(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today strongly opposed recommended cuts to the state's Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund, saying further reductions in the under-funded program would result in higher costs later, and possible penalties from the federal government.
"Cutting the Trust Fund even further is equivalent to a homeowner once again postponing maintenance on a leaking roof; it is penny wise and pound foolish. Taxpayers will shoulder a huge bill later. Spending Trust Fund dollars will also help provide jobs at a time when they are sorely needed," said Kim Coble, CBF Maryland Executive Director.
The 2007 legislation creating the Trust Fund specified $50 million a year for the program. The amount actually received by state agencies each year has been a fraction of that. The Trust Fund revenues for Fiscal Year 2011 are projected to be about $42 million; Governor O'Malley has allocated about $20 million in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. Today, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) recommended the Fund be cut further to $10 million in next year's budget.
"We know these are difficult economic times, and every state program must share some reductions. However, this fund has already been cut by 40 percent and DLS is recommending another 50% cut on top of that. The legislature is asking for the health of the Bay to accept an undue burden of the fiscal cuts—something none of us can afford." Coble said.
Maryland's two-year milestones for cleaning the Bay would be jeopardized if the legislature accepted the Legislative Services' recommendation. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has said the Trust Fund is a key to meeting those short-term goals, specifically for reducing "non-point" sources of pollution flowing off our farms and our suburban and city streets. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said it would seek penalties for states that fail to meet such goals.
This Trust also provides significant employment for Maryland residents who design and install stormwater systems. In testimony today, DNR officials listed a host of specific companies that would be hit by the cuts.