A bill adding funding to the state’s Enviornmental Protection Fund, sponsored by Assemblyman , D-Rye, passed the Assembly Monday.
The bill went through by a vote of 111-0, a unanimous, bi-partisan endorsement of Latimer's legislation that ensures a separate funding stream for essential environmental projects statewide, including flood mitigation projects for ravaged areas.
Environmental Advocates of New York - a statewide environmental group that monitors state legislation — identified the bill as a "Super Bill," one of the highest priority among all proposed legislation. The bill would provide a net increase in resources allocated to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) used to fund major environmental projects statewide, Latimer said. It would phase unclaimed deposits collected by the state through the Returnable Beverage Container Law from the General Fund into the EPF over four years.
Latimer co-sponsors the bill with state Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Erie County, and credited environmental activist and lawyer J. Henry Neale of Scarsdale for bringing the concept into consideration.
"This proves once again the value of citizen advocacy in taking a good idea, and giving it the attention it deserves," Latimer said.
In describing the bill, Environmental Advocates noted that since 2003, approximately $500 million in New York State funds have been swept from the EPF for General Fund relief; since 2008, the EPF appropriation has been reduced from $255 million to $134 million.
Latimer said new revenues are needed support the many important projects that protect New York’s families and the environment. Some of those programs include protecting natural resources and community character, eliminating solid waste, keeping family farms working, and preventing pollution and invasive species.
New York State collects about $115 million from unclaimed bottle deposits on an annual basis.
These revenues would be phased in over four years, starting in State Fiscal Year 2013–14. Also, the bill specifies that this new revenue would not replace the traditional source of funding for the EPF but would supplement the current funding source. This bill would not amend the mechanism that collects the unclaimed deposits in the current bottle bill law. Latimer indicated that the revenues generated by bottle deposit law, which keeps communities cleaner and encourages recycling, should be used to benefit state programs to protect our air, land, and water.
The bill awaits Senate passage before submission to the Governor's office.