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Spitzer Matches "Green" Pledges with Greenbacks

February 1, 2007

While education and tax breaks garnered the biggest headlines, Governor Spitzer's $120 billion budget also proposed significant funding for the environment to help protect New York's water supplies and recapture money for the state that's now going to big beverage companies. Rob Moore with Environmental Advocates of New York says the Governor's proposed funding for 166 new environmental staffers is a key budget item.

"For everyday New Yorkers it means there's going to be more people on the ground protecting their water supplies, protecting natural areas and providing better stewardship of public lands."

Spitzer's budget also calls for updating the state's bottle recycling deposit law. According to Moore, that would shift money now pocketed by the big beverage companies and devote it to the environment. The Bottle Bill that the governor is backing would do more than just extend deposits to non-carbonated beverages. NYPIRG's Laura Haight says it would also take the unclaimed deposits that now go to beverage companies and move them into the state's Environmental Protection Fund.

"It's a lot of money. They project $100 million a year, and this would put that money into the state environmental protection fund to support local parks, open space, farm protection, a whole range of really good environmental issues."

While it was education funding and no tax increases that made the biggest headlines, Moore notes that Governor Spitzer still found a way to address New York's biggest environmental needs.

"It's a very tight budget year as people are well aware. And for him to be able to add over 160 new positions to environmental agencies, really says something about where the environment is on the priorities for his administration."

Michael Clifford/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NY