The governor has a plan to re-open parks just in time for Memorial Day. But when you have a $9.2 billion deficit, nothing comes without a price.
“We’ve provided them with an option at this point,” said Governor David Paterson’s Communication Director Morgan Hook. “It is an option that has difficult choices in it that includes cuts and funding to programs that nobody wants to see cut.”
But lawmakers and park advocates say Paterson is trying to back them into a corner.
“This is really just a ploy by the governor to use the fact that the parks are closing to press the Legislature into hacking the [Environmental Protection Agency] in half,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
The governor’s proposal would earmark $6 million of the Environmental Protection fund for state parks operations. In order to do that though, Paterson proposes redirecting $67 million in revenue away from the fund, a number lawmakers say is even bigger, and will result in other devastating cuts.
“This excuse of re-routing $110 million from the Environmental Protection fund and telling all of you that it’s a $6 million program, he’s taking $104 million to do other things,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “It’s inappropriate.”
“Whether it’s the Buffalo Zoo or zoos in New York City, or botanical gardens in Erie County or parts of the Bronx, they would be cut 40 percent and the Legislature has not weighed in on those restorations,” said State Senator Antoine Thompson, chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee.
NY1 - May 25, 2010 - By Erin Billups