Bond Proposal on the Ballot by Tom Reynolds
On November 8th, New York voters will decide whether the state will borrow more money. A $4.2 billion bond act is the only statewide proposal on the (back side of the) ballot this year. The specific wording of the proposal is:
“To address and combat the impact of climate change and damage to the environment, the ‘Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022’ authorizes the sale of state bonds up to four billion two hundred million dollars to fund environmental protection, natural restoration, resiliency, and clean energy projects. Shall the Environmental Bond Act of 2022 be approved?”
The state Legislature has already approved the plan. But the catch is that the state has to get approval from voters to borrow the $4.2 billion. The money is supposed to be used on big-ticket, long-term projects.
Who could possibly oppose something labelled the ‘Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022’? Even though the federal ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ wasn’t about reducing inflation, we can trust that politicians have correctly labelled this one.
As you might imagine, supporters include environmental groups and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who are giddy over the proposal to give them a $4.2 billion slush fund. Yes, it’s a slush fund. You see, there’s not a specific list of projects; that will come later in the process. There are general allocations, not mentioned on the ballot and the biggest general allocation is $1.5 billion for climate change. What a shock. Climate change finds its way into the bond issue!
$1.5 billion (35% of the total funds) must be spent in disadvantaged communities.
Opponents have raised concerns about the costs. Let’s take a more in-depth look at that.
Gerard Kassar, the NYS Conservative Party’s chair summed it up, “We fear New York State’s reputation for unchecked spending will result in the possibility of the State Legislature spending the entirety of the $4.2 billion on projects that should be paid with existing authorized debt, new federal sources, and pay as you go where possible."
“Unchecked spending?” In New York State? Impossible!
“New federal sources?” State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli unintentionally explained that when he commented on the NY State budget, “The American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed by President Joseph Biden in March, will provide $12.6 billion in direct fiscal relief to New York State...”
Couldn’t some of that $12.6 billion have been redirected to this instead of incurring new borrowing?
“Existing authorized debt?” The state budget is around $212 billion. $4.2 billion is 2% of that total. Couldn’t Hochul and friends have found $4.2 billion in the budget for something they view as important as this – and not added more debt?
Kassara expanded on ‘Existing Authorized Debt.’ “…there is money remaining from projects that were authorized but never conducted or completed from earlier environmental-oriented bond acts, so that money remains to be used first.”
And timing is everything. Kassar also added that the, “resulting debt service…will be issued at the highest interest rates New Yorkers have seen in decades."
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Jamestown, reiterated some of these issues: "The problem is, this is a very large bonding act and it's very vague as to how the money is going to be spent…“
As to the $1.5 billion slated to go to green energy initiatives, of which he would not be in favor, Borrello said, "I think those should be separate and away from infrastructure projects, because we've already spent way too many taxpayer dollars on these ridiculous boondoggle green energy projects."
What? Ask Green Energy projects to stand on their own in front of the voters. Environmental heresy!
‘World Population Review’ says, “States borrow money for education, defense, health care, and welfare expenses and cover budget gaps, unfunded pension commitments, and outstanding bonds. Debts have increased in the states due to spending habits or a decrease in income from taxes and other sources…New York has the highest debt of any state, with total debt of over $203.77 billion.”
What’s another $4.2 billion when you are already $203 billion in the hole?
Shouldn’t some of that $203 billion have been spent on these pressing issues? It causes one to question our political leaders’ judgement and past decisions.
Business executives and everyday people know that we must constantly make financial trade-offs; we forego buying something in order to buy something else. Albany’s politicians have no idea what that concept is.
Even if next year’s Governors’ name is Zeldin, judgement and financial wisdom have to be imposed onto Albany’s legislature.