Annapolis, MD – January 22, 2020 – For the sixth year in a row, Governor Larry Hogan has proposed major funding to restore the Chesapeake Bay and continue his strong record of skilled environmental stewardship. This includes a record $57.2 million for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund, more than $280 million for environmental infrastructure projects statewide, full funding for Program Open Space and land conservation programs, and $1.6 million to help the agricultural sector meet Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan goals.
Over the last six years, the Hogan administration has committed nearly $6 billion to wide-ranging Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, resulting in measurable improvements to the bay’s health. Since FY 2015, there has been a 24% increase in crab abundance in the bay and a 21.3% increase in submerged aquatic vegetation acreage. Due in large part to the governor’s investments and leadership, Maryland is on track to meet our nutrient pollution reduction goals by 2025.
“Maryland is fortunate to be home to countless natural assets, but for us, none is more important than the Chesapeake Bay. As a result of our collective efforts, the bay is now the cleanest it has been in recorded history,” said Governor Hogan. “I remain strongly committed to meaningful, innovative, bipartisan, common sense policies and programs that protect our environment in a manner that also promotes job growth and economic opportunity.”
“We are very thankful for Governor Hogan’s strong leadership on the environment and particularly the Chesapeake Bay,” Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “Thanks to the governor’s unprecedented support, our department and our partners can continue working together to protect our natural resources and the bay, which is rebounding and becoming more resilient.”
“This year’s budget continues Maryland’s strong leadership on environmental protection and public health, boosting bay progress, critical infrastructure, and climate resiliency when our state, region, and nation need it most,” Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said.
“The governor’s proposed funding for agricultural initiatives will allow our farmers to continue their progress toward meeting our Watershed Implementation Plan goals and protecting the Chesapeake Bay. Farmers are the original stewards of the land, and I thank Governor Hogan for his continued commitment and support for Maryland’s agricultural communities,” Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder said.
For the third year in a row, the governor’s proposed budget fully funds land conservation and preservation programs–including Program Open Space–with no diversions of special fund relief revenue to the general fund. The budget also includes $43.9 million to continue the repayments of past transfers. Governor Hogan has pledged to fulfill the entirety of the Program Open Space repayment schedule, including the FY 2020 funding that was restricted by the General Assembly.
Including the repayment of past transfers, programs funded by the transfer tax in FY 2021 receive $250.5 million. This money provides support for state and local land acquisition and recreation, Maryland Park Service operations, and capital maintenance and development projects in state forests and parks. Further, for the fifth year in a row, the budget fully funds programs supported by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, which will see record funding of $57.2 million, a nearly 7% increase over FY 2020.
To continue the critical work in meeting the state’s goal of a sustainable oyster population and harvest within eight to 10 years, the Fiscal Year 2021 budget also includes $8.7 million in capital funding for the oyster restoration program, compared to $2.6 million just last year—a more than 200% increase.
The FY 2021 budget also allocates funding to extend and expand the state’s tax credit for zero-emissions vehicles, which will assist in further reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and pollution in the bay.
Other environmental highlights in the budget include:
• Committing more than $280 million for environmental infrastructure projects statewide.
• Providing $1.6 million and 53 new full-time positions to accelerate implementation of agricultural Best Management Practices that reduce nutrient flows to the Chesapeake Bay. This significant investment of resources will help the agricultural sector meet Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan goals.
• Allocating additional funding and positions to support agricultural conservation practices to help Maryland farmers implement the Phosphorus Management Tool and meet Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan goals.
• Maintaining funding for the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund and MARBIDCO, which includes the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program.
• Re-establishing funding for the Comprehensive Flood Management Program flood at $6 million in FY 2021.
• Including two new positions to provide communities technical assistance related to nuisance flooding, and to support the expanded role of the Coast Smart Council to address climate resiliency for state capital projects.
• Allocating record funding in the 2010 Trust Fund of $21.4 million for agricultural conservation practices and technical assistance – a 9% increase over the prior year. The enhancement includes an increase of $1 million targeted for manure transport to help Maryland farmers implement the Phosphorus Management Tool program.
• Providing 10 new positions in the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to enhance lead poisoning prevention efforts consistent with legislation passed in 2019.
• Allocating $2.5 million over two years to shore up funding for MDE’s Air and Radiation Administration activities in light of declining Clean Air Fund revenues. As the State has improved air quality, there are less fees and penalties paid by sources of air pollution.
• Adding two new positions to the Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, which establishes a regulatory framework for the commercial production of hemp in Maryland. An additional position is dedicated to efforts to combat the invasive spotted lanternfly.