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FY2014 Budget Goes to Governor's Desk

Date : Mon, 24 Jun 2013 17:12:15 -0400


For Immediate Release

June 24, 2013

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100 <tel:609-558-9100>

FY2014 Budget Goes to Governor's Desk

Today the Assembly approved the FY2014 Budget, sending it to the Governor's desk.The DEP's FY 2014 budget is part of the ongoing weakening of environmental programs by the Christie administration.It is not just the cuts to environmental programs and the diversion of funds that should go into environmental programs it is the policy and programs of the administration where we are seeing weakening of environmental standards and cuts and elimination of important programs.It is not just about money, it is about the antiregulatory and anti-environmental philosophy at DEP. In the aftermath of Sandy instead of strengthening programs they are actually being weakened.

"The Governor and Legislature are using the environment to balance the budget.They are diverting tens of millions of dollars from environmental programs which also hurts jobs and the economy.This budget is part of the Christie administration's bigger agenda threatening the environment.The Legislature rubberstamped the Governor's budget instead of standing up for the environment and green jobs.They are going along with the Governor's anti-environmental and clean energy agenda that costs us jobs," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

The overall DEP appropriations, funds, and bonds are down from
$1,095,000,000 to $834,934,000. The biggest drop will be in Special Funds and Bonds from $435 million to $201 million based on the elimination of Blue Acres and open space funding.Yet those programs will still have $11 million going to salaries.

"At a time when we need money for open space to prevent flooding and buyout people we have no money in the programs to help them.We are still diverting $11 million out of what little open space money is left to staff those programs even though they may not have anything to do,"
said Jeff Tittel.

The Governor and Legislature are raiding:

-$162 million Clean Energy Fund

-$40 million from Passaic River litigation

-$18.3 million from Hazardous Discharge Site Cleanup Fund

-$16.3 from NJ Spill Compensation Fund

-$2.5 million from Safe Drinking Water fund

-$13 million from the Shore Protection Fund

-$21.6 million from the Recycling Fund

-$4 million from the Water Supply Fund

-$5 million from the Landfill Closure Fund

-Beaches and Harbor Fund

-Energy Conservation Fund

-Pollution Prevention Fund

-Land Acquisition and Development Fund

-Water Conservation Fund

"The Governor and Legislature are balancing the budget at not only the expense of the environment but on the backs of people who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.The Governor's budget runs away from the challenges of Sandy when it comes to sea level rise and climate change and he is ignoring the lessons of Sandy when it comes to rebuilding our state in a sustainable and resilient way," said Jeff Tittel,

The DEP Budget will be down in FY2014.The agency budget will be $228 million, cutting back from $341 million in FY2013.This is the result of a drop in Corporate Business Tax revenue.This revenue is constitutionally dedicated and drops in this funding impact watershed management planning, brownfield redevelopment, diesel programs, and parks capital improvements.The DEP budget focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy but has no allocations for climate change, adaptation planning, or buyouts for families along the coast and flood prone areas.

DEP is down to $211 million in FY2014.Most of the DEP budget, over 75%, comes from fees, fines, and federal grants.Outside of the commissioner's office and Park Maintenance the department would be entirely self-sufficient.Under this budget DEP was raided for $85 million.

Cutting the DEP budget is part of the Christie administration's ongoing attack on the environment costing us jobs and adding more pollution and flooding.The DEP budget is down by 40%.The administration is taking money from the DEP yet again to close budget gap.They are taking $5 million from the Landfill Closure Fund which will lead to more incidents like we are seeing in Roxbury.This funding could be needed in the future as we dispose of Sandy debris.While the Governor balances the budget, these sites will continue to leech pollution into the environment.This is after $10 million was taken last year.$21 million is being taken from recycling programs.This money is now even more important to help deal with the debris from Hurricane Sandy.$800,000 is coming from nuclear plant safety programs, despite all the issues with Oyster Creek during Hurricane Sandy.

DEP staffing is at the lowest level since the mid-80s.There are only 2679 employees, down from 3400 in 2008.The FY2013 budget called for just below 2800 and we have not met that due to the hiring freeze. This year's budget calls for 2812, and we do not think that will be met.There are fewer people to ensure our air is clean and make sure as we rebuild we will protect people from flooding.DEP staffing is already at a record low and with the hiring freeze in place many positions remain unfilled as staff retires.With rebuilding moving forward there may not be even be enough staff to write the permits to help get businesses and our economy going.

Capital funding for our Parks is down by $900,000.

Compliance and Enforcement

The DEP is supposed to report from Compliance and Enforcement every fiscal year on the number of inspections, investigations and enforcement actions and post this information on the agency website.The last report was in FY2010. What the administration reported in the budget is the percentage, not the actual number, of sites that have been inspected, investigated, or enforcement action, making year to year comparisons difficult.It is not just the number of sites that are in non-compliance but the number being inspected.In 2008 there were 29,579 enforcement actions, in 2010 it was 16,722.In 2009 there were 656 air inspections and in 2010 it was 487.The reports at Air, Hazardous Waste, Land Use, Pesticides, Radiation, Solid Waste, Site Remediation, Water Quality, and Water Supply.

"Polluters are responsible parties, but people who violate environmental laws are now called customers," said Jeff Tittel. "Enforcement and inspections become even more important as we clean up after Hurricane Sandy."

Clean Energy Raids

In FY 2014 $162 million will be diverted from clean energy funding.The Governor has continually diverted this funding, costing jobs and adding air pollution.Last year $252 million was diverted from the Clean Energy Fund and $107 million in FY2012. Since coming into office, Governor Christie has taken $750 million from the fund, costing us jobs and contributing to climate change which will mean more storm surges and flooding in the future.

Raids on the Clean Energy Fund are unconscionable after Superstorm Sandy because this money could help people rebuild.This money is supposed to be dedicated to energy efficiency, weatherization, and renewable energy.These programslower carbon footprint.Cuts to clean energy have not only cost the state around 4000 jobs and increased air pollution, but after Hurricane Sandy we must rebuild in a sustainable way.

"These cuts are especially wrong after Hurricane Sandy because we need to our lower carbon footprint.Because of the cuts there will not be enough money for rebates to help people rebuild their homes with energy efficient appliances and furnaces as wells as weatherize their homes.Cuts to clean energy have not only cost the state around 4000 jobs and increased air pollution, but after Hurricane Sandy we must rebuild in a sustainable way," said Jeff Tittel.

The Governor's rush to rebuild is less about doing things right and more to do with it being an election year.Instead of buying out flood prone properties we are rushing to rebuild them so it will look like we are doing something and there will be more tax revenue.But we will have to buy them out later and we are putting people in harm's way.The same is true of infrastructure like Route 35 where we are rushing to rebuild in almost the same way in the same places that just got destroyed.The next time there is a big storm it will get washed out again.

The Governor vetoed the fracking waste bill and the TMDL bill for Barnegat Bay.He has stacked the Highlands Council with anti-Highlands members and the Council's professional staff has been fired.He has withdrawn standards for perchlorate and PFOA.He eliminated the office of Climate Change and DEP's coastal mapping.His administration has added environmentally sensitive areas into sewer service areas.

"This budget is more about election year politics and looking good to his national audience.The lesson from Sandy is that areas that were protected did better than area without strong environmental regulations and the Governor is rushing ahead without looking at the long term consequences because he wants to do ribbon cuttings and press events instead of rebuilding New Jersey in a resilient and sustainable way. This budget is more about public relations and politics than helping New Jersey rebuild in the right way," said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2013-06-24 14:12:15

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