(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has opted not the pursue a costly bond measure for environmental projects due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, which was slated to appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, called for voters to approve $3 billion to fund a number of climate change initiatives, the largest environmental bond act in New York history.
With the state currently looking at a $14 billion budget deficit in the next year, Cuomo said in a phone call with reporters that it was not the appropriate time to pursue this type of plan, WBFO reported.
The state Division of Budget removed the item from the ballot on July 30.
“The $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act was passed in the state budget in April 2020,” according to a statement on the governor’s website. “Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo confirmed on July 30, 2020 that the bond act will be pulled from the November ballot due to the impact the Coronavirus response has had on the state's financial situation.”
The bond measure is part of the state’s 5-year plan for climate change, which seeks to:
• Reduce flood risk
• Invest in infrastructure
• Restore habitats for fish and wildlife
• Preserve open space
• Prepare the state for climate change
• Undertake transformational projects, with a focus on disadvantaged communities
The money borrowed for the bond measure would have been paid back over the course of several decades.
Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy of New York, told WBFO the decision to pull the bond measure represented a missed opportunity.
“While it is clear that the pandemic has had a serious impact on the economy of our state and the nation, this measure was an opportunity to create jobs and conserve the clean water, clean air, and natural resources our children and grandchildren depend on,” Ulfelder said.