Action Alert: State budget writers considering raids on LCHIP and RGGI!

June 3, 2010

Action Alert: State budget writers considering raids on LCHIP and RGGI!

As many of you will have read or heard, the NH State Legislature is holding a special session next Wednesday, June 9th to vote on final legislation to balance (or more accurately, re-balance) the state budget. 


After being taken off the table by budget negotiators in recent weeks, new raids on the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) are once again being considered.  Any funding taken from LCHIP will directly impact the program’s next grant round that opens on July 1, reducing total grants or even leading to its cancellation! 


In addition, the Governor and legislature are also considering a first-time raid on the dedicated fund of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions from power plants that funds energy efficiency programs in New Hampshire.  While less directly related to our day-to-day land protection work, defending RGGI is also a policy priority for the Forest Society.  We were very involved in the passage of the RGGI legislation several years ago, and the program is the cornerstone of our state’s efforts to address the causes of climate change. 


For both programs, the fiscal principle at stake is the same - defending dedicated funds established for environmental purposes from becoming piggy banks for general government. 


With all this in mind, we ask you to contact Governor Lynch, your State Senator and your State Representatives in the next 72 hours, and tell them that raids on the LCHIP and RGGI dedicated funds are bad fiscal policy, and will jeopardize critical land conservation and energy efficiency projects in their districts.   


Brief talking points for both programs are included below, and please don’t hesitate to call or email me with questions or comments.  Thank you all for your attention to this matter, and please let me know what you hear from your elected representatives!  Last but not least, please feel free to forward this email to other folks who you think may have an interest and be of influence.


How to Contact Governor Lynch


Governor John Lynch
Office of the Governor
State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
(603)271-7640 (fax)




How to Contact State Senators and Representatives


Click the following link to find your reps:


LCHIP Talking points:


·        LCHIP has seen its budget repeatedly reduced or raided for purposes other than conservation since its inception a decade ago.  The constant raiding by the legislature and its impact of conservation projects is a reason that a dedicated fund was established for the program in 2008.  Yet even with the dedicated fund, the raiding has continued.  Just last spring the legislature voted to divert half of LCHIP’s revenues to state’s general fund in fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1.  Further reductions in LCHIP now would effectively eliminate the program, just as towns and cities across the state are preparing their applications for the next LCHIP next grant round.


·        LCHIP’s dedicated fund comes from the “LCHIP fee” paid at the county registrar when filing certain documents.  The fee was established in state statute specifically to fund land conservation and historic preservation, not the state’s general fund.  So when state budget writers divert LCHIP revenues to the general fund, they are pulling a bait and switch on NH citizens, as the revenue is no longer being used for its legislated purpose.


·        If the Legislature raids LCHIP’s dedicated fund again, it will further downshift the cost of conservation -- which benefits all New Hampshire residents -- on local towns and cities.


RGGI Talking points:


·        The fund established from the auction of pollution allowances from the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have been dedicated to support energy efficiency improvements for homeowners and businesses across the state – reducing emissions and saving money.  A substantial portion of the funds has been allocated for low income individuals.  By raiding this fund, the Legislature will be reducing assistance to NH’s low-income population who are in most need of the efficiency investments.


·        The RGGI money is established through a fee born by the state’s ratepayers.  Using this money for the general fund would, like LCHIP, be a bait and switch and in effect create an electricity tax.


·        The RGGI investments in energy efficiency improvements creates jobs here in NH – current estimates are over 200 jobs have been created with the first year of RGGI funding.  Using the money for the general fund will result in fewer jobs created.