Things to know before casting your ballot
By Gwendolyn Craig
On the back of ballots this Nov. 8, the state asks for voters’ approval to borrow up to $4.2 billion for the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. If authorized, the funding would support climate change mitigation, flood reduction and restoration projects, open space land conservation and water-quality improvement projects. At least 35% of the total borrowing must support initiatives in disadvantaged communities.
Below are answers to some questions voters may have before heading to the polls to vote on this measure.
The Adirondack Park could see funding for projects in the bond act’s broad categories. Of the $4.2 billion, at least $1.1 billion is proposed for restoration and flood risk reduction; $650 million for open space and recreation; $1.5 billion for climate change mitigation; and $650 million for water quality and water infrastructure. About $300 million is undesignated.
The measure, proposed under Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, has the support of many lawmakers in her party and some Republicans. Many Adirondack Park groups and environmental organizations are in support. The Business Council of New York State and the New York State Association of Counties also support the initiative for its promise of financial assistance to local governments to harden infrastructure and combat climate change.The bond act also promises to support 84,000 jobs, according to a study supported by a coalition of environmental organizations called New Yorkers for Clean Water and Jobs.
The state Conservative Party has come out against it. It does not believe taxpayers should take on more state debt and highlighted how previous bond acts remain unspent.
The last time the state approved such environmental borrowing was under Republican Gov. George Pataki during a presidential election year in 1996. The $1.75 billion Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act has nearly been spent, though records show as of early 2022 about $82 million remained and $100 million is authorized for borrowing.
The Explorer spent over six months reviewing records and interviewing members of the Pataki administration, environmental leaders and state agencies to see how the majority of the last environmental bond act was spent. It found no audit was ever done. A full accounting was never made available. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, in charge of the bulk of the funding, had issued a handful of annual reports accounting expenditures and allocations. The last public report to state legislators was just over two decades ago in March 2001 when $1.3 billion had been appropriated, but $647 million had actually been spent.
In-depth look at the last bond act
The Adirondacks received a fair amount of attention under the 1996 bond act. Notable projects included several major land acquisition and conservation easement projects, the closure of all landfills within the park and infrastructure upgrades to Olympic Regional Development Authority facilities.
A couple of thoughts:
Of course, everyone wants clean water, air and soil. However, how much power do people want to give the government to obtain these things?
I feel like there should be more to this article. For example,
“The Explorer spent over six months reviewing records and interviewing members of the Pataki administration, environmental leaders and state agencies to see how the majority of the last environmental bond act was spent. It found no audit was ever done. A full accounting was never made available. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, in charge of the bulk of the funding, had issued a handful of annual reports accounting expenditures and allocations. The last public report to state legislators was just over two decades ago in March 2001 when $1.3 billion had been appropriated, but $647 million had actually been spent.”
That’s it? No quotes from those interviewed about accountability for no audits, no full accounting? Basil too busy going to Ukraine to actually discuss why last report was 2001? Where can we see those reports?
“conservation easement” – what exactly is covered under conservation easement.
Politicians always promise thousands of jobs, but details. What is the average pay going to be for these jobs? Will they be unionized jobs? What about private contractors-will they be able to get bids for these jobs, or are they going to have to provide Union workers in order to get the bid? Will bids be given to minority businesses first? Etc…
I feel most people will vote yes, without really knowing the specifics of the Act, not know that NY hasn’t spent all of the money from the last Bond passing, and journalists should help with the details.
I think your article is a good first step, and I will dig more. From what I have already found, I will be voting NO on Prop 1. If you can provide any help with that, it would be appreciated.
Gwendolyn Craig says
After the paragraph you quoted in your comment, there are links to our in-depth pieces, which should answer some of your questions. I hope that helps.
Tom Paine says
Vote NO!! The people of NYS are already swimming in debt and now 4.2 billion more. A bottomless pit of NYS debt for generations to come. And know we discover that there has been no audit trail of 1996 Environmental Bond Act monies. In true NYS form the graft, corruption, and mismanagement shines through. Vote NO!!
Patricia A Darienzo says
It is true that so many programs that are funded by taxpayers under the guise of protecting the environment, (as an example) wind up in the pockets of the politicians. the last proposal to fix the roads also included another stimulus check, whatever happened to that. Some roads were paved, many others were not. And don’t even get started on Social Security, taken from our paychecks and now they are threatening it will not be there for us. WE THE PEOPLE ARE JUSTIFIABLY PISSED