Bond freeze puts environment on ice
December 19, 2008 § 2 Comments
I haven’t seen a news post for this yet, but have gotten the call: all my environmental work that is bond funded has been put on ice. Not just proposed or uncontracted work, but also existing contract work.
This freeze will impact the productivity of environmental nonprofits and state agencies across the state. Programs that have been taken for granted, citizen water quality monitoring, volunteer organizing, restoration projects of all kinds – halted. And it may just be for a short time, but as you can imagine, no one’s getting rich doing environmental work – and people may have to step away from the front lines of a life’s passion in order to avert living out of a car.
And who will watchdog for the environment then?
For a long time, bonds have been the noncontroversial way of finding the funds to do the work that we need done to improve the quality of life in California – or at least slow its decline. Because we can’t agree that we need to raise taxes. Sure, there’s room for more efficiency with how a lot of our tax dollars are spent- but I’ll tell you what, having sat in a State office building for 3 years – some people work really hard. But I’ve also seen idealists crumble under political pressures, and end up feeling that it is better to do the minimal amount of work than fight. And there are so many political interests staring down environmental agencies both at the state and federal level. Yet ironically today’s Times mentioned the incredible inefficiency of NASA and a mini-scandal in which security officials (I think it was FBI) were encouraged to bill overtime in Iraq-getting payouts of $75k for a 3 month stint (and we all know the Pentagon has had an astounding lack of oversight in general). So I find it interesting that these agencies have such long leashes, while on the environmental end, agencies are not only shafted annually in terms of actual budgets, but also have to constantly fight, beg and justify their existence – with hours wasted on detailed reporting just to keep from being cut out altogether. Yet we all know that there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to ensure that our grandchildren inherit the earth’s resources.
Anyway, if you care about the Heal the Bays, Santa Monica Baykeepers, North East Trees, all our grant-funded conservancies and commissions and watershed councils who fund staff through bond-related grants, please call your assemblymembers, state senators, and the governor. Apparently the bonds froze because our credit rating sucks, partly because we haven’t nailed down a budget.
And I guess you should expect a lot more blogs from me….I’ll have the time, unless I get a job.
Post-script: the possibility of the freeze was reported in the Times: