Months-long push helped restore underfunded agency budgets, secure historic increases in outdoor recreation, infrastructure programs
SANTA FE, N.M. (March 18, 2021) – Today New Mexico Wild and a coalition of environmental organizations praised efforts by the state legislature to increase funding levels for key agencies like the New Mexico Environment Department, the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, including the State Parks Division, and the Office of Outdoor Recreation.
Funding levels for FY2022 were recently adopted as part of the revised House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committee Substitute for House Bills 2 and 3, which is awaiting action by the legislature and signature by the governor.
Additional funding was also made available to key environmental and outdoor recreation initiatives through SB377, or “junior money” allocations by state legislators.
A summary of the funding levels are as follows:
- $15,396,200 in general fund appropriations for FY22 – an increase from the original $13,146,200 recommended by the LFC, and close to meeting the governor’s recommendation of $16,842,000
- The new appropriation of $15,396,200 cuts the previous deficit for NMED’s general fund in half, from -25.70% to about-12.67%, when compared to FY2011 levels ($17,630,100, when adjusted for inflation)
Energy, Minterals and Natural Resources Department
- $23,668,900 in general fund appropriations for FY22 – an increase from the original $22,818,900 recommended by the LFC, and close to meeting the governor’s recommendation of $25,274,000
- The new appropriation of $23,668,900 still maintains a deficit of -13.11% compared to FY2011 levels ($27,241,080 when adjusted for inflation)
State Parks Division
- $8,685,700 in general fund appropriations for FY22, which is an increase from the original $8,485,700 recommended by the LFC and the governor’s recommendation of $8,485,600
- The new appropriation of $8,685,700 still maintains a deficit of -31.06% compared to FY2011 levels ($12,599,040 when adjusted for inflation)
Outdoor Recreation Division
- $478,800 in general fund appropriations for FY22, which is equal to the amount recommended by the LFC and slightly higher than the governor’s recommendation of $451,400
– This general fund appropriation includes $100,000 for the Outdoor Equity Fund
- A special one-time appropriation of $500,000 for the Outdoor Equity Fund was also allocated in the budget
- An additional $272,600 for the Outdoor Equity Fund was allocated by legislators in SB377
- The amount for the Outdoor Equity Fund for FY22 now totals $872,600, which is close to fully funding the $1.025 million requested by the agency for the Outdoor Equity Fund
- In addition, $500,000 will also be transferred from the Youth Conservation Corps fund to support the outdoor recreation division’s investment in trails throughout New Mexico, which will help leverage additional federal matching dollars for key outdoor recreation and infrastructure projects in local communities.
– This number falls short of the $3.22 million requested by the agency for the Great New Mexico Trails Package.Additional COVID19 relief money could be leveraged for additional federal matching dollars in the future.
Liliana Castillo, Deputy Director at Climate Advocates Voces Unidas (CAVU), said:
“The underfunding of our critical environmental regulatory agencies has left New Mexicans and communities most impacted by climate change and pollution to fend for themselves. We applaud legislative leaders for restoring some of the funding state agencies need long-term to tackle the daunting challenges we’re facing when it comes to our environment and health.”
Ben Shelton, Political and Policy Director at Conservation Voters New Mexico, said:
“Thanks to the hard work of our state’s legislative appropriators, this year’s budget process represented forward progress, but we’re not done yet. Adequately funding agency environmental protection isn’t measured in a linear way. The question isn’t just whether there are more dollars or less. The question is whether the resources are there to support a new vision for environmental protection and community support for our environmental agencies. That vision and the resources it requires continue to emerge, and the legislature must continue to support that.”
Jon Goldstein, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at Environmental Defense Fund, said:
“Thank you to legislative leaders in the House and Senate for these vital funding increases for New Mexico’s environmental regulatory agencies. After years of harmful cuts in the past administration, these increases are an important down payment and a critical step toward getting these agencies back to full power to protect the health, air, land and water of New Mexico.”
Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of the Gila Resources Information Project, said:
“We appreciate the efforts of House and Senate leaders to restore critical funding for New Mexico’s environmental agencies that are essential to protecting land, air, water and public health in communities such as ours that are impacted by major polluters.”
Sr. Joan Brown, OSF, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, said:
“We are grateful for all of the hard work of the House and Senate to address critical needs of New Mexican communities through the budget process. It is an unfortunate reality that we have so many ecological and health challenges that funds beyond what were appropriated are necessary to really care for our Land of Enchantment, sacred land, water, air, and communities.”
Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild, said:
“New Mexicans expect and deserve a government that protects them from the harmful effects of the oil and gas industry, carries out proactive initiatives to combat climate change, supports our growing outdoor recreation economy and helps businesses reopen and recover from COVID19. None of this can be done without proper funding. We appreciate the careful consideration the legislature gave to the budget requests of these critical agencies.”
Camilla Feibelman, Director of Sierra Club-Rio Grande Chapter, said:
“Our environmental agencies, because they are lacking in resources, should never have to choose which communities to protect. So we are incredibly grateful to both House and Senate committees for moving these agencies closer to the budgets they need not just to permit but to truly protect our air, water, lands, and community health.”
Tammy Fiebelkorn, New Mexico Representative at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), said:
“SWEEP applauds the efforts of the House and Senate legislative leaders to provide adequate funding to our environmental agencies. This budget is an important step in overcoming previous cuts to these agencies and ensuring the resources need to protect our citizens and our environment are provided to EMNRD and NMED.”
Featured image from publication, Outdoor Recreation and New Mexico’s Economy