ALBANY (TNS) — New York will no longer ask voters this fall to approve a plan to borrow $3 billion for a variety of environmental projects, citing the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Thursday he was pulling the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act from the November ballot, telling reporters he didn’t think it was “financially prudent” to do it while the state’s fiscal year revenues are projected to fall $16 billion short of January projections.
”We’re going to postpone the environmental bond issue for one year,” Cuomo said on a conference call. “The financial situation now is unstable, as everyone knows. We’ll wait to see what the federal government provides in aid. We’re waiting to see what happens to the economy, when the revenues start coming back to the state. Nobody can tell you that now.”
New York lawmakers approved the $3 billion bond act as part of the $177 billion state budget in March.The legislative approval sent it to the statewide ballot for final approval from voters this fall.
The bond act would have financed a variety of environmental upgrades aimed at protecting native species, improving green infrastructure and preventing flooding, among other projects.
But the legislation, approved just as the coronavirus pandemic struck New York, included language allowing Cuomo’s budget office to pull it from the ballot if the state’s finances took a turn or if it would interfere with the state’s ability obtain financing for other projects.
Cuomo exercised that authority Thursday.
The Democratic governor said he’s hopeful the bond act will be on the ballot in 2021, though it will require another vote of the Legislature next year. New York’s constitution requires voter approval for such state borrowing.