State Budget Updates

10/24/2014  By Alex Conley - YBFWRB
In September, state agencies submitted their budget requests for the next two years. These are now under review by the Governor’s Office, which will decide what to include in the proposed budget the Governor will submit to the legislature in December. Here’s a quick recap of what state agencies have proposed that might affect our work on salmon, steelhead and bull trout recovery:

The Recreation and Conservation Office administers the Salmon Recovery Funding Board programs, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, and several Puget Sound and coastal grant programs. Last biennium, RCO requested $40 million in state capital funds to support the SRFB grant program, and received $15 million in the final budget approved by the legislature. These state dollars are combined with federal Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund dollars to support the SRFB grant programs we work with. This biennium they are again requesting $40 million, of which ~$2 million/year would come to our Mid-Columbia Region. They are also requesting $1.6 million to support the statewide Lead Entity Program, and $11.5 million for the Family Forest Fish Passage Program. For more on RCO budget requests, go to: http://rco.wa.gov/doc_pages/budgetRequests.shtml

Since 2009, the Department of Fish & Wildlife has seen its funding from the state general fund decrease by 45%, making it increasingly reliant on other funding sources, like license fees, federal grants, and the Discovery Pass. Like all agencies, WDFW was asked to present what it would do to cut its state general fund request by an additional 15%. Its proposals include cutting the number of enforcement officers in the field and the number of permit writers completing HPA permits for in-water work. WDFW is requesting funding to prevent these additional cuts. For more on WDFW budget requests, go to: http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/budget/.

The Department of Ecology has two capital budget requests that would fund large projects in the Yakima Basin. One is the $50 million request for the statewide Floodplains by Design program, which we highlighted in the last newsletter. The other is the $30 million request for implementing the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. It would provide:
  1. $9.5 million for design of water storage projects at Kachess and Keechelus Reservoirs;
  2. $8.5 million for fish passage at Cle Elum Dam;
  3. $5 million for water conservation projects with irrigators and municipal water users;
  4. $5 million for aquatic habitat enhancements and watershed land acquisitions;
  5. $1 million for planning and EIS for Tieton Dam Fish Passage;
  6. $500 thousand each for aquifer storage and recovery pilot projects and water marketing and banking development.
The Department of Natural Resources is requesting also requesting $2 million for management of the new Teanaway Community Forest. The Habitat Subcommittee of the YBIP Implementation Committee, which includes Board staff, worked hard to develop specific proposals for the $5 million aquatic habitat project request.

For more on Department of Ecology budget requests, go to: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/services/fs/15-17budget.html

All state agency requests and the decision packages explaining them can be found on the Office of Financial Management website: http://ofm.wa.gov/budget/decisionpackages/1517/default.asp

And of course, you can always let Governor Inslee know what you think he should include in his budget, at: http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/interact/default.aspx

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