BUFFALO, N.Y. — Election Day is just about two weeks away and while Western New Yorkers have a lot of choices to make on candidates around the region and state, there are other issues voters need to be aware of.
Voters could enact the Environmental Bond Act for the first time in 26 years, as it’s the only state-wide proposition on the ballot and could change how the state will approach climate change mitigation moving forward.
If it passes, the act would allow the state to borrow $4.2 billion for environmental projects.
“This is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the voters to go to the ballot and demand significant investments in clean water, clean air, and green jobs from New York state,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
The act caused environmental justice leaders from around the region to come together Wednesday evening and encourage voters to vote yes so that Western New York can see cleaner water, and less air pollution through zero-emission school buses and new renewable energy projects while also creating 100,000 jobs across multiple sectors without raising taxes.
“It does create good paying jobs,” said Richard Lipsitz, President Emeritus of AFL-CIO. “It will help families sustain themselves. It actually expands the economy, stimulates the economy, and makes it a better economy for ordinary working-class people.”
But the positive impacts of these projects aren’t what’s in question — it’s the timing — as many voters just can’t seem to fathom the need to add to the state-related debt that already sits at $62 billion and is expected to climb 42% by 2027 according to James Hanley, a research fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy.
“Especially with the spending spree that the state went on in this last legislative session, we're going to have a hard time paying for everything we've already committed to in coming years, barring some very good economic times,” he said.
But to some, it’s well worth the price, as they say, these issues are only going to become worse and more expensive to fix over time.
“Ultimately, we can't afford not to make this investment,” said Smith. “So again, I encourage all the voters to flip over that ballot and vote yes on prop one.”
According to the latest Siena poll, those in favor are 28 points ahead of those against, but there are still plenty of undecided voters.