Environmental Advocates Still Hope For Budget Changes


Environmental groups say they have several major concerns about some things that were added to the Joint Finance Committee’s version of the state budget, and hope to see them changed before final passage.

The provisions that most worry them include another proposed cut in the Stewardship land-buying program, an item to help large farms and frac sand mines that want to drill high-capacity wells, and, says Amber Meyer Smith of Clean Wisconsin, language that would limit local communities from enacting stronger standards for storm water and construction site runoff.

“We feel that those kind of regulations should be best left up to communities to know how they can deal with them in the best way. There are areas of the state that have more water quality impacts than others, and those communities should be able to take their local authority and enact some regulations that can really clean up their waterways.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Smith says as the state Assembly gets ready to take up the budget today, she also wants to emphasize what she likes in the document:

“Additional positions at the DNR to handle the huge load that comes along with enforcing sand mining permits; air permit fees… so it’s a mixed bag, and we hope that with some additional actions on Stewardship, high-capacity wells and water regulations, that this could be a pretty decent budget for the environment.”

Smith says if the legislature doesn’t make changes environmental groups favor, efforts will be made to get Governor Scott Walker to use his veto pen.

The chair of the Assembly Environment Committee, state Rep. Jeff Mursau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, did not return phone calls for this story.