Experience and Expertise
Budget and Spending
“No money… no mission.” It doesn’t matter what a plan says if there is not enough behind it.
Short budgets – and bloated ones – more frequently hold up progress or waste opportunities than do laws or rules standing in the way. Budgets also are more often up for renewal than other policy. They change every year or, in some states, every two years. Of course, this makes budgeting among the most competitive arenas for getting things done.
Government spending for conservation is currently squeezed in a vise between the two biggest pieces of the Federal budget. On one side is so-called “entitlement spending” that pays for Social Security, medical programs, and other obligations set by law. These rise each year according to set rules. The other side is defense spending. This amount is decided anew each year but always at a the same scale as entitlements. These two pieces of the budget spend out all of the tax revenue coming in. That means conservation and all other amounts are set each year with money the government borrows.
There are good options to hoping for more government spending: steering existing funds, amending contracting rules, cost-sharing, and creating market structures such as Public Private Partnerships that bring in private investment. And government is not the only way to move conservation. People, businesses, and charities play large roles.
Watershed Results has directed funds to research on wildlife diseases, solutions to conflict between wildlife and livestock, smart fixes for Threatened and Endangered Species, and attention to Federal lands. We develop budgets from the expected costs of intended achievements, not looking back to past budgets as if pledging more means caring more.