Will New Yorkers Vote “Green” This Fall? The $4.2 Billion Environmental Bond Act, Explained

Examiner Plus: In November, New York voters have the opportunity to greenlight a landmark $4.2 Environmental Bond Act, which, if approved, will provide communities across the state with much-needed dollars to fortify themselves in the fight against climate change.

New Yorkers have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to voice their support for building resilience and mitigation strategies in the face of climate change at the polls on November 8.

The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act is a $4.2 billion legislatively referred bond question that will be on the voters’ ballot at the general election.

By voting yes, a voter supports the state issuing $4.2 billion in general obligation bonds for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change mitigation.

Journey to the ballot 

In January 2020, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the $3 billion bond measure during his State of the State Address. The State Legislature approved budget legislation that included the bond issue, but the bond measure was withdrawn due to COVID-19 — specifically concerns about the pandemic’s economic impact.

“The financial situation is unstable,” Gov. Cuomo said in July 2020, announcing that the bond measure was being pulled from the ballot. “I don’t think it would be financially prudent to do it at this time.”

In 2021, the ballot measure was proposed again as a provision of Senate Bill S2509C. In April, the New York Senate approved the bill 28-25. The New York State Assembly also approved the bill 88-61. Later that month, Gov. Cuomo signed the bill.

In September 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul requested legislative leaders amend the bond measure to include an additional $1.2 billion, increasing the total bond amount to $4.2 billion.

Senate Bill S8008C was introduced in 2022. The bond measure was also renamed from the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act to the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act.

On April 8, both the Assembly and Senate passed the budget bill. In the Senate, all Democrats voted yes. Five Republicans voted yes, and 15 voted no. In the Senate, 101 Democrats voted yes, and four voted no. Eleven Republicans voted yes, and 31 voted no. The next day, Gov. Hochul signed the legislation.

“This moment demands historic investments in renewable energy and environmental protection to bring us closer to a brighter, greener future,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement announcing the Bond Act and other environmental investments in the 2022-23 fiscal year.  Read more>>