Cuomo Administration Quietly Secures $20 Million for Conservation Fund

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Laura Nahmias reports this morning: The Cuomo administration has quietly resolved a problem created by a single line in the state's budget that would have held up $20 million in federal aid to the state's Conservation Fund. The administration was able to secure the funding without an amendment to the state budget that had originally been requested by the federal government. The offending sentence was discovered in late June, when ConservationFund leaders and members of the New York Audubon Societylearned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service planned to block tensof millions of dollars in grants funding over a provision in the state's budget that would have allowed the executive branch to move money out of the ConservationFund. The sentence was added into the budget during late night budgetnegotiations in March, said Audubon Society spokesman Sean Mahar. A single-sentence revision is all that would have been required to release the money, Mahar said. "It's a costly one-sentence line that needs to be added or we lose 20 million dollars," Mahar said in May."This is a huge hit to DEC's operating budget." The federal government wanted the budget language to be amended before it released the money, but the Legislature would have had to amend the budget a day before the end of the legislative session. Such a change would have required the Cuomo administration to issue a message of necessity to get it done on time. Instead, the administration reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a promise to change the language next year, said Jason Kemper, chairman of the New York StateConservation Fund. In exchange, the USFWS agreed to release the money. "The Governor's Office has provided me with documentation that thefederal aid issue has been resolved for this fiscal year and that isgood news for the sportsmen and women of this state," Kemper said. Morris Peters, aspokesman for the Division of the Budget, confirmedin an email that the issue had been resolved."We received word from USFWS that they willobligate the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds that arecurrently apportioned to New York," he said. To read the full article at City & State[ click here. ](

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