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DNR Proposes Budget With Only Modest Spending Increases

DOA Has Pressured Agencies To Maintain Spending Levels In New Preliminary Budgets

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The Department of Natural Resources has proposed a two-year budget that includes a spending increase of less than 1 percent.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s budget recommendations, which have been endorsed by the Natural Resources board, would raise the agency’s spending levels by only a couple million dollars. The minor increase aligns with what the Department of Administration has been pressuring state agencies to do: Keep a tight lid on preliminary spending plans for the next two years.

Former DNR Secretary George Meyer, now with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, asked the board this week to urge the state to spend more on programs that try to reduce nutrient-laden runoff that causes algae blooms in lakes and rivers.

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“What we see every day is that the status quo does not solve the problem,” said Meyer. “In fact, we appear to be losing ground in many waterways.”

Meyer said there’s a regular stream of news stories about nutrient pollution and algae-clogged waterways, including about phosphorus contamination in Green Bay.

Stepp was not at this week’s board meeting, but Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney said the DNR has been meeting and talking with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection on runoff pollution issues.

“We are kind of working through and trying to address these issues in a working relationship with DATCAP,” said Moroney. “I think there will be more to come on this issue. I think there’s no silver bullet, so to speak, that’s going to solve this easily overnight.

Environmental groups say the clean-up would be moving faster if the Walker administration hadn’t altered a phosphorus reduction plan passed in 2010 under Gov. Jim Doyle.

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