Robbing a Bank to Balance the Budget

With all the moral and ethical challenges facing Albany lawmakers these days, it should come as no surprise that both the Assembly and Senate resorted to bank robbery as a viable revenue stream for this year’s state budget. The bank in question is Governor Cuomo’s one billion dollar Green Bank.

The Assembly attempted to cook the books by shifting a few decimals in the New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA) budget to the tune of $20 million. They complemented that scheme with a green money laundering plan to repurpose $15 million to help building owners replace aging heating and cooling systems with more efficient and hopefully cleaner technology. 

The Senate was a bit more brazen, preferring a scorched earth methodology. The Skelos and Klein Gang went for the Green Bank vault, draining all of the $218 million of clean energy funds recently deposited by the state’s Public Service Commission. For good measure, they also stripped NYSERDA of all of their state funding and money set aside to manage and clean-up the West Valley nuclear waste site.

Governor Cuomo, for his part, played the Sheriff of State Street, deputizing over fifty environmental organizations, civic groups and businesses to defend his green stash.

The Governor may have emerged unscathed for now, but with such a large amount of clean energy funds gathering dust (hopefully earning interest) in his Green Bank he may not be so lucky the next time around. It has been well over a year since the Governor first announced his innovative green financing proposal. New Yorkers are anxious to see a return on their $1 billion investment. Come this time next year, the Governor better have something to show for it or the Legislature may not surrender so easily.

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