State's budget woes could hinder Puget Sound cleanup
The state's worsening budget crisis could slow down action spelled out in a new plan to restore the health of Puget Sound by 2020, the director...
The state's worsening budget crisis could slow down action spelled out in a new plan to restore the health of Puget Sound by 2020, the director of the state agency overseeing cleanup efforts said Wednesday.
As recently as three weeks ago, the Puget Sound Partnership was making the case for an increase of $200 million to $300 million in Puget Sound funding in the 2009-11 state biennial budget, said David Dicks, the partnership's executive director.
But that was before the state revenue forecast plunged, boosting the likely shortfall in the next two-year budget to $5.1 billion.
That means the funding request to state legislators likely will to be reduced to $150 million to $200 million, Dicks told The Olympian's editorial board.
Habitat loss and pollution pouring into Puget Sound at the rate of 150,000 pounds per day are signs of a problem that requires action, he said.
"This is our best, last chance to save Puget Sound," he said.
The Puget Sound Partnership will submit its recovery plan to the state Legislature on Monday.
It suggests several funding options, including increased federal money and perhaps creating a Puget Sound local improvement district with voter-approved taxing authority. But the action agenda does not endorse a specific funding approach.
That's a mistake, according to the Puget Sound Environmental Caucus, which consists of more than 40 environmental and conservation groups.
"New sources of funding are desperately needed to achieve the 2020 recovery goal," stated a Nov. 20 letter to the partnership.
He said earlier, however, that much more work is needed to educate the public about the perils to Puget Sound before people are asked to pay a new fee or tax.
Dicks said the financing of the cleanup could receive a boost from President-elect Obama, who has pledged to rebuild the economy through major green-energy and public-works projects that would benefit the environment.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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