New York Gov. David A. Paterson announced Thursday (May 27) that an agreement has been reached with the Legislature to ensure there are sufficient revenues to maintain operations at all New York State parks and historic sites, including all Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds in the Adirondacks and Catskills, according to a press release.

The agreement with the Legislature achieves $74 million in State General Fund savings and contains Paterson’s E-waste Program Bill.

“I am pleased that an agreement has been reached to reopen the 55 State parks and historic sites that were closed earlier this month. In addition, we are providing critical funding for clean air and water programs and implementing a new program to better manage the disposal of E-waste that I proposed and have fought for,” Paterson said. “We still have much work ahead of us, however, as we continue our effort to reduce spending and address the deficit through a responsible enacted State budget.”

Sen. Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said: “State Parks are part of our history and our future. Families depend on parks for recreation, and as the economic engine that drives our tourism industry, New York depends on them for its economy. Senate Democrats are fulfilling our promise to keep parks open for New York’s families. I commend Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver, and my legislative colleagues for standing up for our parks and the families who use them.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “These are tough times and many families are still struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford lavish vacations. Our parks give them the opportunity to stay close to home and enjoy all that our State has to offer. It is time to resolve this issue immediately and give the people of New York State their parks back.”

The agreement reached with the Legislature includes:

  • Achieving $74 million in General Fund savings by reducing the amount of Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) revenues to be deposited into the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by $80 million, utilizing $6 million of RETT funds to provide for the operation of 55 State parks and historic sites that had previously been closed and depositing the remaining $74 million in the General Fund;
  • Utilizing proceeds from the RETT to support State parks ($11 million) and for payments to local governments in the forest preserve ($5 million). These $16 million in expenditures are not included in the EPF;
  • Funding the EPF at $134 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year, a $78 million reduction from the final 2009-10 level;
  • Generating $4 million in new revenues to support the EPF, including increased penalties for violations of environmental laws and hazardous waste generation fees; and
  • Enacting the governor’s E-waste Program Bill.