Green Bond Receives Boost in New Statehouse Budget
December 10, 2020
Environmental initiatives received some attention in Rhode Island’s pared-down fiscal 2021 state budget.
The Beach, Clean Water & Green Economy Bond touted by the environmental community and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) was increased by $5 million to $74 million.
Among the Providence items: $4 million for park infrastructure on the former Interstate 195 land; $6 million for Providence River dredging; and $2 million for the Woonasquatucket River Greenway. The 7-mile network of parks and paths stretches from Providence Place and follows the Woonasquatucket River to Lyman Mill Pond in North Providence.
State beaches, parks, and campgrounds received $33 million, or about $7 million less than what DEM requested. The agency didn’t receive the money it sought for six new park jobs. Park improvements may include a new facility at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick. There’s also funding for recreational facility improvements and upgraded facilities, such as new bathrooms, at Roger W. Wheeler State Beach (Narragansett), Scarborough State Beach (Narragansett), Misquamicut State Beach (Westerly), and Brenton Point State Park (Newport). State campground improvements include new bathrooms and utility upgrades.
Farm and forest protection programs received $3 million.
Stripped from the budget was a request by Save The Bay for the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund (OSCAR). The program would be funded through an additional 5-cent fee on each barrel of petroleum imported to the state by ship. The money, about $2 million annually, would provide grants to cities and towns for climate-crisis resiliency projects, such as improving coastal habitats and green infrastructure. Save The Bay believes prospects for OSCAR are promising in the General Assembly session that is expected to begin in January.
The green bond (Question 2) will be put before voters with six other referendums in a special election scheduled for March 2.
The General Assembly and governor must first approve the spending. The House of Representatives is expected to consider the budget Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. If approved, the budget moves to the Senate and then the governor.