LAKE GEORGE - U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer stated Aug. 27, he is lobbying for the release $900 million in federal oil drilling royalties to fund state parks throughout the nation.
Earlier this year, Gov. David A. Paterson proposed shutting down dozens of state parks in order to save $11 million as the state grappled with a $9 billion deficit.
Although the state lawmakers restored the disputed funding on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, Schumer said future state budget deficit projections look increasingly bad.
"The New York state budget next year looks as if it's in worse shape than this year," he said.
For years, the federal government has been accumulating the oil royalties, which are tagged for clean air and water initiative, Schumer said. About $400 million of the royalty fund is specifically designated for parks.
Schumer continued by saying he believes funding public parks in states with floundering finances provides the best "bang for the buck."
"Here in New York, we have the best state park system in the country - It's well known," he said. "And to close them made no sense."
He observed tourism is one of the largest industries in New York State and it accounts for 700,000 jobs and $40 billion in annual economic impact statewide.
Schumer is also championing a $10 million bill that would create competitive matching grants for nationwide tourism-related infrastructure and marketing initiatives. He said the existence of state parks are vital in assuring the health of rural tourism-based economies - especially in the Adirondacks where large-scale industry isn't allowed.
Schumer offered his observations during his visits to the Lake Placid Beach House, the Wild Center and the Adirondack Museum, Aug. 27. During the visits, he touted the Travel Regional Partnership Act.
Schumer is seeking to insert the parks funding proposal into the oil liability legislation that will seek repayment from British Petroleum for the cleanup costs after this year's spill in the Gulf of Mexico.