This past Thursday, Governor Larry Hogan announced his administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. The FY 24 budget proposal would fully fund Program Open Space, a conservation program established in 1969 and funded through a real estate transfer tax. The Governor and the General Assembly have ensured total funding for Program Open Space over the past seven fiscal years. The proposed budget also includes a $102 million repayment to Program Open Space, completing the schedule of repayments passed by the General Assembly in 2016 to pay back funds previously diverted away from Program Open Space to the General Fund.
The FY 24 budget proposal would also fully fund the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. This statewide program funds water quality and habitat restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Maryland.
Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn issued the following statement:
“I applaud Governor Hogan’s budget proposal for the Fiscal Year 2024 as it relates to conservation and environmental stewardship priorities. Once again, the Governor’s budget provides full funding for two of Maryland’s most important environmental conservation programs, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and Program Open Space.
“As Maryland continues to grow and develop, full funding for Program Open Space ensures that Maryland can provide sufficient greenspace and parks for people and nature to thrive. This program benefits rural and urban communities and every community in between.
“The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund provides essential support to Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and has funded more than 3,000 projects across the state to restore wetlands and streams, reduce stormwater runoff and support agricultural conservation practices that help the Bay and farmers.
“The Governor’s budget for FY 24 on the environment and conservation is totally consistent with Governor Hogan’s strong support for conservation and the Chesapeake Bay throughout his two terms, and I encourage the General Assembly and the Moore-Miller Administration to continue to provide full funding for these critical programs.”