Water Caucus Weighs in on Gov. Scott’s Water Funding Proposal

LCC and partners are advocating for dedicated funding to protect water quality. Photo by Lori Fisher.

 In his January 24, 2019 Budget Address, Vermont Governor Phil Scott proposed using a portion of the Estate Tax to fund water projects. We applaud the Governor’s commitment to long-term clean water funding, but we are concerned with the proposal he advanced because the tax is variable and moves around existing funds in the state budget. For several years LCC has been working as a member of the Vermont Water Caucus to advance state environmental policy. The Caucus is a coalition of regional and statewide advocacy, conservation and watershed organizations collaborating to protect and improve water quality. LCC and the Water Caucus are asking lawmakers to enact a new, dedicated long-term revenue source to protect and restore our waterways. Here are our comments on Governor Scott’s 2019 Budget Address outlining funding sources for water protection:

The Water Caucus is pleased that Governor Phil Scott recognized that Vermont must establish substantially increased long-term funding to restore and protect water quality in our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds this year.

However, the additional revenue proposed by the Governor appears to fall short of the funding level needed to meet Vermont’s legal obligation to establish water funding that has been outstanding since 2015.

In addition, the Water Caucus opposes the Governor’s proposal to rely on existing revenue to fund protecting Vermont’s water. We cannot take money from other important existing programs to address water quality issues – we need new revenue to tackle this challenge.

The Water Caucus has developed a series of principles that we believe should be applied to any water funding proposal. A key principle is that funding sources must be stable and sufficient to meet our needs. Utilizing the Estate Tax does not create a stable source of revenue, because it varies substantially over time, and diverts money from existing programs. With that said, the Water Caucus looks forward to working with the Vermont Legislature and the Administration to attain our shared goal of sufficient, stable, long-term water quality funding this year. Click here to read the Water Principles