(RICHMOND, VA)—Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe today released his proposed budget for 2019 and 2020. Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Assistant Director Peggy Sanner issued the following statement regarding proposals in this budget:
"We are very pleased that the Governor recognizes the importance of supporting farmers who are committed to adopting cost-effective conservation practices. The proposed budget would appropriate $42.5 million to Virginia's agricultural cost share program over the two-year period. This amount would be helpful, but it falls significantly short of the need as determined by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
"We welcome as a good start the Governor's proposal to provide $2 million per year to support Virginia's ongoing oyster recovery.
"The budget does not, however, propose any new funding for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which provides matching grants to localities for critical projects that reduce polluted runoff—the only major source of pollution that is increasing.
"These programs directly improve rivers and streams while benefiting farmers and local communities. Virginia is starting to see signs of cleaner local waterways and the Bay, but continued support is vital to keeping the Commonwealth on track to full restoration under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. We're looking forward to working with legislators and Governor-Elect Northam during the upcoming General Assembly session to ensure strong state support for clean water."
Leadership and action at the state level is critical to getting the job done. During the General Assembly session that starts January 10, our legislators can ensure Virginia stays on track to restoring its waters by:
- Helping localities reduce polluted runoff by appropriating $50 million to the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund.
- Supporting farmer efforts to put conservation practices on the ground by investing $62 million annually in Virginia's Agricultural Cost-Share Program.
- Investing $3.5 million in the recovery of Virginia's oyster population through both oyster replenishment to assist watermen and the restoration of oyster reefs.
- Adopting updated menhaden management rules developed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to ensure a healthy and sustainable fishery.