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NY removes climate change bond from 2020 ballot — for now

July 30, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this May 27, 2020, file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Cuomo said on Saturday, June 18, 2020 that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York state dropped to 743 and 11 more people had died. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - In this May 27, 2020, file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Cuomo said on Saturday, June 18, 2020 that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York state dropped to 743 and 11 more people had died. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s governor says the state’s economy is too “murky” to move ahead with his sweeping proposal to address climate change by borrowing $3 billion to fund environmental restoration projects across New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Thursday conference call with reporters that the bond won’t appear on November’s ballot but said he hopes voters will weigh in on it the following year.

“I don’t think it would be financially prudent to do it at this time,” he said.

The governor announced his bond proposal in January, when he hoped to focus on climate change in 2020.

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Since then, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the state’s sales tax revenues and tourism industry.

The bond would have funded a variety of projects — including investing in fish hatcheries, restoring riparian buffers to reduce nutrient runoff, removing obsolete and hazardous dams, and renovating infrastructure to better withstand flooding.

Some environmental leaders criticized Cuomo’s removal of the bond from November’s ballot, saying it would have helped stimulate the state’s ailing economy and fulfill Cuomo’s goal of “building back better.”

“Building back better requires that we ensure our neighborhoods can withstand climate change impacts like heat and flooding, which are not letting up during the pandemic,” Bill Ulfelder, New York executive director of The Nature Conservancy, said.