In the News  Archive

Editorial: Cuomo on right track with early budget proposals

Post Star
January 6, 2015

In an early release of some of his budget plans for next year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he will seek a near-doubling of the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, from $177 million to $300 million.

We support the increase, as long as it doesn’t drive up taxes and as long as the money is not used for buying more state land.

New York has made enormous land purchases in the Adirondacks in recent years, adding 65,000 acres of former Finch Paper land to the Forest Preserve and acquiring conservation easements that allow logging but not commercial development on tens of thousands of acres more.

These were worthwhile purchases of spectacular and environmentally significant land. But now the state should concentrate on managing and preserving its natural bounty.

Top on the list for preserving the state’s environment is invasive species control and eradication. Much progress has been made in the local area over the past few years — in particular with the mandatory boat-washing stations set up on Lake George in the summer — but much more can be done.

The expansion of boat-washing throughout the region should be continued. The fight versus destructive invasive species should also be extended to land-based creatures such as the emerald ash borer, which infects and kills ash trees and is found in force in much of the rest of the state but not yet in the Adirondacks.

Fighting invasive species statewide will be a $10-million-a-year effort, according to Willie Janeway, president of the Adirondack Council, but that will be money well spent.

The fund should also be used to help communities with smart growth planning, in which commercial development is managed with environmental principles of ecology and preservation in mind.

Efforts to preserve farmland, parks and inner-city waterfront can also receive money from the Environmental Protection Fund, according to New York League of Conservation Voters, one of several environmental groups to react with immediate praise to Cuomo’s announcement.

Cuomo also intends to propose a large construction program to fund state infrastructure needs, although he has not yet provided details.

We have long pushed for Albany to spend more on infrastructure and less on giveaways, in cash and tax breaks, meant to tempt large companies to locate in New York.

Often, the business incentives don’t work. Officials with a yogurt plant in Batavia that opened just two years ago after getting $25 million in tax credits and discounts announced last month that the plant is closing.

Even when the businesses hang on, as GlobalFoundries in Malta has, it’s questionable whether state taxpayers ever receive a fair return on their investment, which in the case of GlobalFoundries came to more than $1 billion. But when money is spent on infrastructure, jobs are created and the state becomes a better place to live and a more appealing place for new businesses to locate.

Spending on the natural environment of woods and waters is equally beneficial and a perfect complement to spending on the state’s built environment of roads and bridges. Often, one project falls into both categories, as with improvements to lakeshore septic systems or the handling of farm runoff. These are the basic sorts of funding that we expect government to pay for and keep
up with, and we hope that will finally happen in New York in 2016

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