PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO CALL OR FAX TO RESTORE FIVE BUDGET CUTS Posted: April 7, 2004
A minute of your time may make a big difference in the quality of life and of the environment for many Kentuckians. Five budget cuts proposed by the House and Senate 2004-6 budget bills will lower the quality of life for Kentuckians. Among the cuts that need your action: * The Senate bill guts $2.5 million in general fund support for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which funding is dedicated to housing for the very poor, for seniors in need, and for victims of domestic violence and their children. URGE THE CONFEREES TO RESTORE THE HOUSE LANGUAGE PROVIDING $2.5 MILLION IN GENERAL FUND SUPPORT. * The Senate bill also removes 1 million in FY05 and 1.4 million in FY06 from the Kentucky Land Heritage Conservation Fund. That fund, which allows purchasing and maintenance of the remnant natural and wild lands in our state, is already underfunded by 3-4 million each year. Loss of these monies will cause even greater loss of available monies since it will lessen the ability to use the funds for matching grants. ASK THE CONFEREES TO RESTORE THE CONSERVATION FUND FUNDING CUT BY THE SENATE. * The budget bills divert an additional $17.5 million from the petroleum storage tank fund in each year of the biennium above what the Governor had proposed. This additional loss of money from the supposedly "dedicated" fund will mean that the fund will not be able to timely pay its bills. Reimbursements to contractors for removing tanks and cleaning up contamination will be significantly slowed. Contractors will be less likely to undertake removal and remediation of these sites since reimbursement will be delayed and the promise of eventual reimbursement will be years off. Groundwater, still the source of drinking water for more than a third of the state’s population, will remain contaminated and that contamination will spread unchecked. Abandoned brownfield properties with old underground storage tanks will be less likely to be returned to productive use. ASK THE CONFEREES TO RESTORE THE $17.5 MILLION REMOVED IN THE HOUSE BUDGET.
* Another diversion of dedicated funds of concern is the reprogramming of 1.5 million from a restricted fund generated from forfeited performance bonds and interest from cash bonds posted by oil and gas operators, that is used to plug abandoned oil and gas wells. The removal of these funds will slow the progress that has been achieved by the Division of Oil and Gas Conservation in plugging orphan and abandoned oil and gas wells. The presence of those wells poses a real threat to public safety (through migration of methane gas) and public health (through groundwater and land contamination with brine and oil discharges). These funds have allowed the Division to handle the plugging and abandonment of these wells without utilizing state funds, and removal of this amount will delay proper closure and abatement of pollution and safety problems from these wells. ASK THAT THE CONFEREES RESTORE THE 1.5 MILLION DIVERTED FROM THE FUND.
* Also cut from the budget is $4 million each year from the Division of Conservation's cost-share monies that are used to assist farmers in meeting water quality goals while remaining productive. This loss will correlate directly into more water pollution and more enforcement conflicts between the state and agricultural community. ASK THE CONFEREES TO RESTORE THE CONSERVATION COST-SHARE FUNDING. Please take a minute to call TOLL FREE and leave a message for each member of the Senate and House Budget Conference Committees, or send a single fax addressed to each of the conferees at 502-564-6543. The conferees are, for the Senate, Senators Sanders, Williams, Kelly, Roeding, Borders, Tori, Leeper, Stivers, Worley, Jackson, and Turner; and for the House, Richards, Clark, Adkins, Barrows, Callahan, Moberly, Couch, Rader and Vincent.