You have already helped make considerable progress for the environment and our communities this legislative session. In addition to a Clean Fuel Standard passing out of the House and HEAL Act passing out of the Senate, we remain focused on crucial budgets through our Conservation Works priority.
Budgets are moral documents that reflect our shared values and priorities. While critical decisions are made through state budgets each year, most Washingtonians don’t know much about what is in the budgets.
“A well-constructed budget is really essential to be able to tackle our biggest environmental challenges, such as climate change, salmon recovery and orca recovery, reducing toxic pollution, environmental justice,” Darcy Nonemacher, WEC’s Government Affairs Director shared in Real Change News.“Cutting environmental programs will push costs onto people in terms of public health outcomes and exposure to pollution.”
As part of a two-part series, today we’ll breakdown the operating budget and follow up with information on capital budgets next week. To move towards a better future, we need to all have a shared understanding of budgets’ potential impacts on people and the environment — then advocate for bold environmental progress in the budget by contacting your legislator!
What are the basics?
Washington State has three budgets:
- Operating, which funds the implementation of our laws and policies
- Capital, which funds projects such as habitat restoration and clean energy development, for example; and
What are the basics of the operating budget?
The environment, labeled “Natural Resources” in the budget itself, accounts for just 2.2% of the operating budget. While the Natural Resources budget is among the smallest slices of the overall state budget, people in every community across Washington benefit from the clean water, clean air, recreation opportunities, and sustainable habitats for species that it funds.
What’s at stake this year?
Washington faces a budget shortfall at the same time as increased needs due to the pandemic, economic recovery, and addressing racial and environmental justice. During the last recession, unfortunately, environmental programs faced budget cuts more dire than any other area of state government. We can’t let this happen again.
Washingtonians will bear the heaviest burdens of budget cuts through pollution exposure and the resulting public health care related emergencies, escalating climate impacts, salmon on the brink of extinction, and lost jobs and income.
Taking climate action, improving resilience to climate impacts, salmon recovery, and centering environmental justice are all key priorities for the budget this year. Without funding for these crucial needs, we risk losing momentum at a time when environmental progress is more urgent than ever before.
Take action today! Contact your legislator today to support funding for environmental programs. Investing in the environment provides a high return through improved public health, protecting against the threats of climate change, and enhancing quality of life for all people in the state.