Next year, New York voters will decide whether to borrow $3 billion to bolster infrastructure for waterways and sewers around the state -- all in anticipation of the effect of flooding and damage due to climate change.
"We know climate change is going to be impacting us in that way," said Julie Tighe, the president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "New York is likely to see more intense storms and more frequent storms and we need to be prepared for that."
Billions of dollars overall being committed in the $212 billion state spending plan won't just help prepare the state for the impact of climate change, but also help pull New York out of the pandemic-created recession.
These proposals were made in large by the damage created by storms in the last decade, including Hurricane Sandy, but also Irene and Lee. The bond act itself was proposed more than a year ago, but was ultimately shelved amid the onset of the financial crunch during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For every million dollars we spend we generate 17 jobs," Tighe said. "Because those are mostly done by municipalities, those are good-paying, family sustaining jobs."
The budget includes $29 billion for so-called green infrastructure, clean energy projects like solar and wind whose cost will be partly taken up by the private sector. Governor Cuomo says he wants the state to be a leader on the issue.
"We're going to be the green energy capital of the nation, the largest off-shore wind program in the nation," Cuomo said.
And the push to spend big on green infrastructure comes as the Biden administration is proposing more than a trillion dollars in federal projects -- all of which could benefit New York.
"Making sure we are getting at the invisible infrastructure with these billions of dollars, -- I think Biden has proposed $45 billion just for water infrastructure -- New York will benefit greatly," Tighe said.