Funding LCHIP was a Key Democratic Campaign Issue Last November
Senate Committee Provides Less Funding for LCHIP than Gov. Benson Proposed in 2003 Budget
Concord ,NH …. The Granite State Conservation Voters today expressed disappointment over the Senate Finance Committee’s recommendation to cut funding for the Land and CommunityHeritage Investment Program by half of what Governor Lynch and the House of Representatives proposed in their respective budgets.
The Senate Finance Committee voted on Tuesday to provide LCHIP with $6 million dollars over the biennium from the state’s general fund, cutting in half the $12 million voted on by the full House and recommended by the Governor. The Finance Committee did recommend the creation of a study committee to look into dedicated funding alternatives for future years.
“This vote by the Senate Finance Committee is extremely disappointing,” said Jim O’Brien, Executive Director of the Granite State Conservation Voters. “Not only is this committee proposing half the money recommended by the Governor and the House, but it has turned away repeated attempts by Senate Leadership to identify a permanent funding source for this biennium. We hope that the full Senate will reconsider this decision and provide LCHIP with the $12million recommended by the Governor, the House, and New Hampshire’s conservation community.”
Democratic Senators campaigned last fall on shoring up funding for the program which has seen inconsistent funding from the Legislature since it was created in 2000. Fully funding LCHIP at $12 million and identifying a dedicated funding source was one of the five identified Priorities for NewHampshire’s Environment released by a coalition of New Hampshire based conservation organizations at the start of this legislative session.
“Unlike the majority in the NH House and Governor Lynch, the Senate has not made funding LCHIP a priority,”continued O’Brien. “In fact, the recommendation for of $6million over the biennium is even less money than Governor Benson proposed in his 2003 budget. I don’t believe that funding LCHIP at a level below what Governor Benson proposed doing four years ago is even close to what Senators campaigned on last fall, or what the voters of New Hampshire expect from their elected representatives.”
“Funding for the conservation of New Hampshire’s farms, forests and historic properties had been neglected by the Legislature well before the enactment of LCHIP. This vote by the Senate Finance Committee continues this unfortunate tradition. We hope that when LCHIP goes before the full Senate that it will receive the same priority attention that Senators placed on it while campaigning last November,” concluded O’Brien.
The Granite State Conservation Voters is a non-partisan, statewide organization dedicated to protecting New Hampshire's environment by making it a priority for our elected leaders. GSCV was established with the advice and encouragement of many of New Hampshire’s conservation leaders to perform a critical role – hold state Legislators accountable for their votes and inform the public about key environmental issues under debate by the legislature. For more information, please visit www.VoteConservation.org