IBO released a study on October 15th highlighting the tough choice that New Yorkers will face on November 4th when they are asked to vote on the School Facility Health and Safety Bond Act of 1997 (the ”Act”). Do voters address a major school facility problem or do they reject the pending bond act and avoid exacerbating an already problematic budgetary outlook for New York State?
The Act would authorize the state to borrow up to $2.4 billion through the issuance of bonds to fund capital projects related to the construction, expansion, and modernization of public school facilities. IBO’s study examined school facility needs, the implementation details of the Act (including comparisons to other bond propositions over the last two decades), the state’s fiscal condition, and potential alternatives to address school facility needs.
We conclude that the Act would help meet the immediate school capital needs that exist in both New York State and New York City, but it is not possible to determine how the bond proceeds would be distributed and whether they would be directed to the areas of greatest need. Even though the Act would provide $2.4 billion in new funds, the striking deficiencies in New York State’s education infrastructure means that some school facility needs may go unmet. On the other hand, the state’s long-term fiscal health remains a concern because it faces significant out-year budget gaps and debt payments continue to grow at a rate more than double that of state revenue collections.
IBO prepared this analysis to enhance understanding of the pending Act in accordance with its City Charter mandate to provide objective and impartial analysis to the public regarding fiscal and budgetary issues facing New York City. IBO does not advocate a position on the Act but we do recommend that all voters cast an informed ballot on this important issue. Copies of the full report are available by calling (212) 442-0632 or by accessing IBO’s website at www.ibo.nyc.ny.us.