Last fall, Governor David A Paterson of New York began talking about a new, bigger, better bottle bill in NYS. The original NY bottle bill has been in effect about 25 years and is only on beer and soda bottles and cans. This bill was an environmental victory as the funds from the bottles and cans that were not returned were applied to environmental causes in the state.
The new, bigger and better bottle bill that Gov Paterson started with was flawed in so many ways. First, Paterson wanted to put additional requirements on the water bottle industry. He wanted a special NY bar code to be put on the water bottles. I fail to see why this is necessary. Not only does add an additional expense for producers, it seems unreasonable that any item in this day and age should be labeled for solely NY sale.
The second major flaw in my mind, and again in my mind the most important issue, was that the monies from bottles that were not returned for the deposit were to go into the NYS general fund. I admit I am sick of increased taxes in NY. I admit that there is a huge deficit looming in NY due to less collection of taxes from large Wall Street firms. I will not, though, admit that monies that could be kept for expanding alternative energies or other environmental items and needs should just automatically go into the state’s general fund.
Despite the second concern, the bigger, better bottle bill passed and approximately $118 million was put in the NYS budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 from such a bill, the monies going into the general fund. The bill was set to take effect on June 1, 2009. April came and went. There was give and take over monies for stores that were going to have to be prepared for the huge additional influx of returns. There was questions as to whether the state would be ready. State legislators toyed with additional legislation in May to push back the start date to July, August or later.
The last week of May brought a preliminary injunction from US District Court Judge Thomas Griesa that the additional bottle deposit could not go into effect on June 1, 2009. Today, June 2, 2009, an additional court order from Judge Griesa states that the bigger, better bottle bill cannot be implemented until June 1, 2010. In his court order, Griesa indicated that NYS only bar codes are not constitutional.
Now comes the bigger problem with the bigger, better bottle bill. I am sure you think there is no problem left. There is a year to get it right. Unfortunately, NYS has a huge problem – a budget gap of $118 million – that will only be able to be taken care of through additional cuts to state spending (something I do not feel that the legislature and governor did enough in the current budget).