By: Nick Reisman | NY State of Politics
A coalition of more than 175 organizations in the conservation and business sectors are calling for environmental programs to be bolstered in the upcoming state budget season.
And their push includes reviving the proposed Environmental Bond Act, which was shelved earlier this year amid the financial downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coalition plans to make itself public on Thursday, getting a head start on what is expected to be one of the leanest budget years since the recession more than a decade ago.
The coalition, New Yorkers for Clean Water & Jobs, is also pressuring Congress to act on a federal stimulus measure that would provide direct aid to state governments that have lost billions of dollars in revenue. Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned the budget will be a dificult one in 2021, given the lack of revenue and the uncertainty surrounding a stimulus measure for states.
But the groups are pointing to the economic benefits of spending to boost the environment. They are seeking support for the Environmental Protection Fund, the Clean Water Infrastructure and for capital projects spending at the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Bond Act, as proposed by Cuomo, would allow the state to borrow $3 billion for environmental infrastructure projects. It would have to be approved by voters after wining passage in the Legislature.
“Environmental programs have historically driven state economic recovery, serving as a proven investment that makes New York communities stronger and healthier,” the coalition said.
“The ongoing pandemic and the escalating climate crisis put further urgency on protecting environmental programs that improve public health, safeguard clean water, strengthen the economy, allow New Yorkers to spend time in nature, and enable communities to reduce local climate risks.”