Local recycling programs around the state are facing a nearly $32 million cut in funding, under Governor Walker’s proposed budget, and the head of the agency that helps oversee those programs says it’s time for them to find new ways to operate.
Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp says surcharges paid by businesses over the past 20 years have helped to institutionalize local recycling programs. Now, she says it’s time to redirect that money back to job creation.
The state cuts would eliminate about 25-percent of funding for local recycling programs, which is raising concerns from members of both parties. During testimony in front of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Monday, Stepp heard from several lawmakers who are concerned that the loss of funding, along with lifting a mandate for recycling programs, will result in many governments ditching the programs or shifting extra costs to residents.
State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) says he believes it’s a “serious mistake” to stop the state’s commitment on helping communities recycle.
Stepp says the DNR will continue working with local programs and give them the tools to help find cost savings. Stepp points to efforts in Waukesha County where over 20 communities joined their programs together, which now operate without a loss. She says similar models could be implemented across the state to help reduce the costs of local recycling efforts.