Senate Republicans Move to Jump Start Land Conservation

December 18, 2006

Hartford, CT –State Senators John McKinney (R-Fairfield), Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen), David Cappiello (R- Danbury), Judith Freedman (R-Westport), Thomas Herlihy (R-Simsbury), and John Kissel (R-Enfield) today announced they will introduce legislation in January to direct at least $100 million from the current year’s surplus to jump start statewide land conservation initiatives.

“For years the General Assembly has woefully under funded the State’s efforts to preserve critical farmland and increasingly threatened tracts of open space,” said Senator Roraback. “We are running out of opportunities to protect these precious resources which contribute invaluably to the unique quality of life we enjoy here in Connecticut.”

“Directing a portion of our budget surplus to make a significant investment in land conservation is both environmentally responsible and fiscally prudent,” said Senator McKinney. “Funding important capital investments like the purchase of land is one of the best ways to use revenue surpluses because the value of what is purchased will last forever.”

The Senators’ bill will:

* enable comprehensive statewide planning to develop a long-term conservation strategy;
* permit the state to be a full partner when land trusts and municipalities undertake the important and difficult work of raising money to fund local conservation projects;
* help farmers who own and work productive agricultural land and want to protect our food-growing capacity through the sale of development rights to the state; and
* increase the likelihood of success of land preservation efforts already underway

“It is important to note that this funding is a one time expenditure,” said Sen. Cappiello, who serves as ranking Member of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee. “We are not looking at a new line item that would create a heavy burden for future budgets. What it does do is provide a shot in the arm to open space preservation that will ultimately pay huge dividends in the future, making it a smart and responsible investment.”

“The Republican party has very strong roots in the preservation of our environment that go back to Teddy Roosevelt and what he did to protect it. I believe using surplus for the acquisition and preservation of open space is the best legacy we can leave for future generations. By using surplus, we’re not spending money from the operating budget needed for other programs and services,” said Senator Freedman.

The Senate Republican Caucus continues to lead on important statewide environmental initiatives.

Senator McKinney has worked tirelessly to protect our environment. He championed legislation to protect over 18,000 acres of land for open space, and to clean up Long Island Sound.

Senator Roraback was hailed as an “Environmental Hero” by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters in 2004 and has been recognized by the Working Lands Alliance as one of its “Legislators of the Year” for his work on behalf of farmers and in the interest of preserving farmland.