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WI Conservation Voters: Budget Moves Us Backward

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March 9, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal makes deep cuts in scores of state programs, something Walker says must be done to balance the budget. However, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters says the cuts to key conservation programs will put the Badger State at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states. League Program Director Anne Sayers says Wisconsin's natural resources play a critical role in the state's economy.

"Natural resources drive Wisconsin's economy, and that's why it came as such a shock to see that some of the programs that best use our natural resources to drive the economy were on the chopping block."

For instance, says Sayers, eliminating funding for recycling means Wisconsin is moving backward in that regard.

"We were the first state in the country to pass comprehensive recycling laws. We're really good at it; we rank very high in the amount that we actually recycle; it's something that Wisconsinites like to do. We like to be responsible for the waste that we create – so this sends the message that we're no longer going to be responsible, we're no longer going to move forward."

Gov. Walker says cuts must be made to help make Wisconsin competitive in the job creation market, but Sayers argues that slashing conservation programs will have the opposite effect. She points to such changes as allowing more phosphorous in Wisconsin's waterways, saying it will drastically affect tourism, the state's third-largest economic factor.

"Phosphorous is what causes those algae blooms that chokes up our lakes and makes them stinky. That's going to impact our economy. Who wants to come to a state to duck-hunt or fish, or swim or vacation, if the lakes stink?"

Sayers acknowledges that some cuts to help balance the budget were inevitable, although she believes drastic cuts to conservation programs won't ultimately support Walker's assertion that "Wisconsin is open for business."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI