Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Wednesday, October 19, 2005


ALBANY—The Business Council’s Board of Directors has voted to support the proposed Transportation Bond Act which will go before voters on this November’s ballot.

This year’s state budget authorized a five-year, $35.8 billion Transportation Capital Plan providing funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the state’s highway and bridge, rail and ports, aviation, canal and non-MTA transit programs. Voters will choose whether or not to authorize borrowing $2.9 billion of that total funding this November. The $2.9 billion bond constitutes just over eight percent of the total five-year capital plan and is equally divided between MTA and non-MTA projects.

The specific elements of the capital plan resulted from extensive public input on transportation priorities in each region of the state. In August, the Council’s transportation committee strongly supported the bond proposition.

The Council's Board agreed that investments in transportation assets have economic benefits throughout New York State in terms of the state’s ability to move goods and people. Capital investments also result in employment in the construction, manufacturing, trucking and related industries and the Federal Highway Administration calculates that more than 42,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in construction plan.

The Board noted that the rejection of the bond would delay completion or cancel some projects under the 2005-2010 capital transportation plan and that a decrease in state funding could hamper the state’s ability to draw federal money from the recently renewed federal transportation bill.

"In endorsing the proposal, the Council's leaders expressed concern about the state's debt level," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. "However, the Board also recognizes that voter-approved debt for long-term capital needs is an appropriate use of public debt.

"We plan to work with state Comptroller Alan Hevesi to find ways to advance his debt reform proposal."

Unlike much of the “back-door” borrowing that state leaders have incurred without voter approval, the debt submitted to voters for approval generally has been for capital projects of broadly recognized economic and social value, as is the case with this proposed bond issue, Walsh said.