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Gov Paterson accused of “Playing Chicken” With Environmental Fund

May 25, 2010

ALBANY, N.Y. - With the long Memorial Day weekend approaching, more than 200 environmental and civic groups say Governor David Paterson is "playing chicken" with state lawmakers in a high-stakes game that would raid $6 million from New York's Environmental Protection Fund as a trade-off to keep the gates open to parks across the state.

The fiscal policy program director for Environmental Advocates of New York, Alison Jenkins, says Paterson failed to provide enough money for parks in his budget, and now he is asking lawmakers to put the environment at risk to pay for parks.

"What he is doing is raiding the Environmental Protection Fund to try to take the blame off of himself and put it on the legislature."

It was only a week ago that Paterson reduced hours open at more than 60 parks in an effort to trim $6 million from New York's $9 billion deficit. Now he has suggested using the environmental protection fund money to cover the shortfall.

Jenkins says that instead of raiding the fund the state should use a budget extender to deal with the temporary shortfall for parks. She says Paterson is not alone when it comes to raiding the Environmental Protection Fund when the state runs short of money. Half a billion has been pulled from the fund over the last eight years, she says, and adds that pulling $6 million more will impact a wide variety of attractions and environmental safeguards.

"So, that means oceans and Great Lakes, farmland protection, municipal parks, waterfront revitalization, zoos and botanical gardens, municipal recycling; breast cancer research was already closed last year, because there was not enough money in the fund to pay for it. "

Many of the groups opposing the governor's proposed cut will be voicing their concerns at a news conference in Albany this morning.

The news conference is in the LCA Press Room (130) in the Legislative Office Building at 10 a.m.

More information of those opposing the cuts is at nylcv.org

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY