Compromise in Hartford on Open Space Funding
The Connecticut General Assembly concluded its 2015 session last week by agreeing to provide significant funds for open space preservation, narrowly averting a proposal that would have been disastrous to conservation efforts.
Lawmakers in Hartford voted to retain all the money that’s currently in the Community Investment Act fund (about $15 million) and to approve half the amount (about $20 million) that had been expected to flow into the fund over the next two years; the other half will be swept into the state government’s general fund and will be used to help close the state’s budget deficit.
So instead of losing $55 million in open space funds, as was proposed, the Community Investment Act will still have about $35 million for open space, historic preservation, affordable housing, and farmland protection.
Considering the budget difficulties facing the state, we think that is a compromise we can live with.
It is especially important considering that legislators and Governor Dannel P. Malloy also authorized bonding over the next two years that will provide $16 million for the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program (for land trusts, towns and water companies); and $15 million in land acquisition money to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The funding was included in wrap-up legislation called the implementation bill. It passed by95-46 in the House and 23-13 in the Senate.
We send our thanks to the members of the General Assembly who supported it, and to Governor Malloy.
Likewise, it is worth pointing out that the state’s community of conservationists, historic preservationists, affordable housing advocates, and farmland protection advocates worked tirelessly from February through June to make sure the Community Investment Act was not gutted.
We were proud to be a part of that effort, and we think the op-ed essays we published throughout the spring in the state’s major newspapers helped set the tone for the debate and restoration of the funds.
Bravo to all.
Alexander R. Brash