Your recent editorial regarding the 21st Century Environmental Quality Bond Act reflected some misconceptions that need to be corrected.
The State Legislature this year approved $70 million in the budget for environmental capital projects. The projects included removing asbestos in state buildings, reconstruction of badly deteriorated boat launching sites, upgrading of medical waste incinerators at state hospitals, and reconstruction of campground electrical systems to comply with the state health code. No one has argued that the projects are not necessary or worthwhile.
Capital projects, such as the construction of roads or prisons, are appropriate purposes for which to borrow. Capital projects, once completed, have years of usefulness and it is reasonable for the state to pay for them over the course of the useful period. People follow the same principle when they borrow money to buy a home. The Legislature, therefore, made the environmental capital projects eligible for funding through the 21st Century Environmental Bond Act.
The Legislature, however, did not make the projects subject to the passage of the bond act. The projects, and funding for them, were approved regardless of the outcome of the bond act. Gov. Cuomo and other state officials emphasized this fact on numerous occasions prior to election day. It was widely reported.
With the defeat of the bond act, the environmental capital projects became no less worthy of their authorized state funding than any other item that received funding under the budget approved by the Legislature. Funds spent to date on those projects were spent properly and in a way to benefit the people of New York.
No money has been borrowed to pay for the environmental capital projects and, in keeping with the voters' mandate, no money will be borrowed to pay the remaining cost of the projects. Some of the remaining spending on the projects may be postponed or canceled. That will also be the case, however, with hundreds of millions of dollars of other spending authorized by the Legislature.
DALL W. FORSYTHE
Director of the Budget