RIPTA, Green Bond Main Environmental Beneficiaries in FY25 Budget


PROVIDENCE — State conservationists and transit advocates are rejoicing; the Green Bond is greener, and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will have enough money to avoid service cuts.

On Friday, lawmakers on the House Finance Committee approved a nearly $14 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Overall, the budget contains only modest investments in the environment, and almost all of the money environmental advocates and lawmakers were asking for in the Green Bond.

Gov. Dan McKee’s original budget proposal, rolled out in January, left out money for key green space and open space acquisition programs. In the budget headed for the House floor later this week, lawmakers added an additional $13 million to the Green Bond and trimmed some of the projects.

State farmland preservation programs — managed by the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission — will receive $5 million if the bond is passed in November. Open space programs operated by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will receive $3 million. The proposed bond question would also provide $5 million for forests and habitat management, to be allocated to DEM to fund forests and habitat management on state property.

In turn, lawmakers reduced the amount for the Newport Cliff Walk and Port of Davisville improvements. The city of Newport has obtained federal grants to cover the bulk of the cost of repairing the two damaged sections of the Cliff Walk, so instead of getting $8 million in bond money, the city would only receive $3 million. Similarly, the allocation to upgrade Quonset’s road infrastructure has been reduced to $15 million.

The big agency news out of House Finance is that lawmakers are giving another $5 million from federal pandemic aid to RIPTA, on top of the $10 million already proposed by McKee. The $15 million in extra funding means the transit agency should be able to avoid any service cuts over the next year, but it is far from a permanent fix to the fiscal cliff facing Rhode Island’s public transit network.

Meanwhile, lawmakers chose to raise DEM’s full-time equivalent (FTE) cap, the total amount of people a state agency is allowed to hire, to 439, a new recent high for the agency. In addition to the governor’s proposal of transforming seasonal employees to full-time, House Finance Committee members also chose to award two new forestry positions to the agency, with an eye on forest management and future wildfires.

DEM’s seaside equivalent, the Coastal Resources Management Council, received no additional FTEs to its cap. It’s getting a bigger budget though: $3.6 million from general revenues, also a new high for the agency. CRMC is expected to pick up another $2.3 million from federal formula funding. Including restricted receipts, the total budget for the agency is rising to just over $6.1 million.


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  1. I’m glad $3 million was added for natural area protection to keep the program going, but even used in matches it won’t go very far considering the development pressures RI is facing, partly in response to the need for housing and the resistance to housing density to build it in built-up areas.
    Similarly for RIPTA, I’m relieved there apparently won’t be service cuts this year, though the “temporary” cuts from 2022 remain. It also means yet another year with no serious progress on implementing the transit improvements called for in the state’s Transit Master Plan, even with the big influx of covid relief and Federal transportation funds, and the need for transit to help address climate and support compact walkable neighborhoods becoming more apparent and more pressing. Maybe next year!

  2. Agree with Barry. Relieved there won’t be RIPTA service cuts due to an additional $5M the GA proposes. That keeps RIPTA on life support for another year, but misses the opportunity to start making the improvements outlined in the Transit Master Plan that would actually provide a reason for many more people to use transit – as will be necessary to meet our Act on Climate targets.

    Relieved? yes. Reason to rejoice? Not so much.

  3. This is terrible. $5 million in the Green Bond for Logging Forests and Prescribed burning on state land which creates a fire hazard and destroys biodiversity.

    Two forester positions added to DEM to support increased logging on state land.

    What a waste of taxpayer dollars which will destroy the environment and endanger thousands of Rhode Islanders living near forests.

    Nathan Cornell

    President of the Old Growth Tree Society

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