Cuomo's call for a $3 billion environmental bond act could strike a chord

Times Union: Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be betting that climate change is on the minds of enough New Yorkers that they’ll approve a $3 billion Environmental bond act in November, assuming the Legislature gives the go-ahead.

But if past history is an indication, there is a 50-percent chance voters will endorse the measure if lawmakers put it in their hands.

Cuomo’s call for the expenditure, which he featured during Wednesday’s State of the State speech is the latest in a long list of bond proposals that have been put to voters over the decades, with some winning and some losing.

The most recent bond act was the $2 billion Smart Schools measure that voters approved in 2014.

According to the Empire Center, a total of 11 bond acts were passed and 11 failed over the past five decades prior to that.

The Center, a fiscally conservative watchdog group, noted that bond acts to fund environmental, transportation, housing and employment initiatives as well as a prison-construction have been offered over the years.

Six were environmental bond issues.

Most recently on the environmental front, the $1.975 billion bond act proposed in 1990 during the Mario Cuomo administration failed 52 to 48 percent while the $1.75 billion measure pitched in 1996 under then-Gov. George Pataki passed 57 to 43 percent.

The difference in conditions and outcomes in those two votes could be instructive.

In 1990, the vote did poorly upstate with many responding to criticism that the money might not all go for strictly environmental projects. There were, for instance, plans to close a budget deficit, and to use at least some of the money for preservation of structures like churches and synagogues. That bond act also came amid a state budget deficit. Read more>>