NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State "Anti-Sprawl" Funds Dry Up

March 25, 2002

States are cutting funds for open-space and so-called "anti-sprawl" initiatives, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. With 45 states facing budget deficits, interest in controlling development through anti-growth efforts is waning among state legislatures.

  • Pennsylvania is freezing $50 million for its Growing Greener initiative -- a sweeping environmental program that pays for open-space preservation -- and another $50 million is on hold for next year.
  • Wisconsin is considering $500,000 cuts in grants to communities for so-called "smart-growth" projects -- along with slashing funds for open-space and recreation from $600 million to $372 million through 2010.
  • Utah cut funding for the purchase of open space from $2.7 million to $700,000 in the coming 2003 fiscal year.
  • An $800 million shortfall in Illinois has delayed plans to implement recommendations of a smart-growth task force in order to give priority to education and human services programs.

States are facing a $40 billion shortfall in revenues this fiscal year -- and many experts are predicting a continued drop in revenues. Nevertheless, sprawl control remains popular with some voters. Despite a state deficit that could hit $17 billion, California voters this month approved a proposition allocating $2.6 billion for land protection and other efforts.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "State Budgets Pinching Anti-Sprawl Programs," USA Today, March 25, 2002.

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