The 2015 legislative session ended last week, but started with a new administration and more than 60 new legislators all working to decrease the $650 million structural deficit.
ESLC was curious to see what Governor Hogan’s budget would hold for farmland and rural protection programs. “It could have been worse”- is the general feeling as the 2015 legislative session ended. While cuts were not as extreme as they could have been Program Open Space, Maryland Agriculture Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) and the Rural Legacy program all suffered, with the biggest hits occurring to MALPF and Rural Legacy.
Governor Hogan’s budget cut $115 million in funds available this year for farmers, parks, and more. According to the Partners for Open Space, since the inception of this program more than $1 billion has been diverted for other uses. The final numbers for rural funds allocated for rural conservation programs are: $21.6 million for POS Stateside, $30.1 million for POS Local, $9.37 million for Rural Legacy, $17.04 million for MALPF and $22.45 million for cover crops.
Next year we hope to see much more investment into rural prosperity. ESLC will be looking to support legislation on renewable energy that fits into our rural environments, as well as supporting legislation that works to help smart growth and prosperity in rural regions. We will again be advocating for full funding for Program Open Space, smart growth programs and the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment fund because without these programs we wouldn’t have the rural working landscapes we work to protect.
For more information on the 2015 legislative session click here