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NY - Saving New York's $3 Billion Environmental Bond - Coronavirus Coverage

Last winter, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $3 billion environmental bond to fund critical infrastructure and other measures to protect New York from the impacts of pollution, irresponsible development and climate change.

The legislature approved the bond act in the spring and in November it should appear on the ballot for our vote. There is a chance it could be kept from the ballot if the state’s budget director, Robert Mujica, decides the state can’t afford the additional borrowing. It has been a quarter-century since the state’s last major environmental capital initiative, the $1.75 billion Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, enacted in 1996. The need for environmental funding is clear and long overdue, but our ability to afford this initiative depends in part on federal funding of New York’s COVID-19 fiscal impact. And we have seen messaging in the U.S. Senate and the right-wing media, that the fiscal impact of the pandemic could have been lower if Democratic governors like Cuomo had moderated their shutdowns.

No one is contesting that COVID-19 has had an enormous health and economic impact on New York State in 2020. But last week, the Wall Street Journal attacked Governor Cuomo for combatting the virus at the expense of New York’s economy. According to the Journal’s editorial board:

“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims to have crushed the coronavirus curve, and we’ll leave that debate for another time. But he didn’t have to crush his state’s economy at the same time. That’s one takeaway from last week’s Labor Department state employment report for June, which shows how many states have managed to keep the virus more or less under control while doing far less economic damage. Job losses in Northeastern states have been more severe than in the rest of the country. But New York stands out even in the Northeast for the size and scope of job losses, which have resulted from Mr. Cuomo’s reluctance to ease his lockdown orders even now that new infections are under control. Over the last year employment has declined by 15.3% in New York compared to 14.4% in Massachusetts, 13.4% in New Jersey, 11.8% in Rhode Island and 10.3% in Connecticut.”

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