New York

New York puts record-setting environmental funding measure to voters

When residents of New York travel to the polls, they will be asked if they support a state initiative to spend $4.2 billion on projects connected to the environment and climate change by marking yes or no on their ballots.

The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 would give the state the authority to issue bonds worth up to that amount in order to finance projects with the goals of reducing the risk of flooding and repairing any damage caused by flooding; preserving undeveloped land and promoting recreation; reducing the effects of climate change; improving water quality; and bolstering the resiliency of infrastructure.

Bond issuances are the method that the vast majority of governments use to borrow money, and this particular transaction is the largest of its type in terms of the real cash that was exchanged. In addition to that, it is the first environmental bond item to be placed on the ballot since the year 1996.

It is stipulated in the law that allowed the ballot initiative that the funds are to be utilized for activities related to the design, planning, site acquisition, demolition, construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of facilities. Several state-level environmental groups support the idea.

“As New York faces the realities of a changing climate, including more extreme weather, severe flooding, and rising temperatures, adapting our communities and upgrading our infrastructure to become more resilient to climate impacts is increasingly critical,” read a statement from the New York League of Conservation Voters in support of the act.

The former Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, first submitted the bond legislation in the year 2020, but he then withdrew it, citing the monetary unpredictability created by the epidemic. Following Cuomo’s reintroduction of the bill in September 2021, it was approved with votes split along party lines. Each and every Republican member in the House and the Senate voted against the measure.

The head of the Conservative Party in the state of New York, Gerard Kassar, has encouraged people to vote against the proposition. He referred to it as a “tax hike” and condemned it by describing it as “a nebulous and amorphous ballot initiative that is more about politics than it is about specific environmental aims.”

Environmental bond acts have often garnered the support of voters. According to the SUNY Rockefeller Institute of Government, just one of the eleven proposals that have been presented before voters throughout the course of the years has been rejected. According to the institute’s estimates, prior bond acts have raised $5.8 billion for environmental programs or projects, which is equal to $30 billion in today’s dollars when inflation is taken into account.

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