Billions borrowed for projects to improve water, air, economy
Nearly 60% of New York voters authorized the state to borrow $4.2 billion for the Clean Water, Clear Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, the first such spending initiative since 1996.
Adirondack Park residents supported the only statewide ballot measure this year with mixed results. The two counties wholly within the park had starkly different views. Essex County voters were 60% in favor of the bond act while Hamilton County voters were 58% against it.
The Explorer dove into records over the first half of 2022 to see what New Yorkers got for their $1.75 billion, the amount of the last environmental bond act passed. The 1996 spending measure was the personal passion of Republican Gov. George Pataki, who put a team of advisers on the job to promote it to voters.
The bond act funded a number of crucial state land acquisitions and conservation easements in the Adirondack Park, the closure of all landfills in the park, water system upgrades and clean air projects.
The Explorer found, however, that no audit was done of what became of the $1.75 billion and that some funding has yet to be spent. In its records search, the Explorer did not turn up a full accounting of what has been spent. The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued its last public report to state legislators over two decades ago in March 2001 when $1.3 billion had been appropriated, but $647 million spent. — Gwendolyn Craig