Gov Signs Budget That Restores Some Key Env Programs
Today, Governor Murphy signed S2021 (Sarlo)/A4720 (Pintor Marin). The legislation changes increase the operational budget of the Department of Environmental Protection to $181,496,000, up from $159,496,000. It also restores money that was being raided from the Recycling Trust Fund and the Clean Communities Fund for Parks Management.
“Governor Murphy has signed a budget that restores key funding for important environmental programs. This is the first year that DEP hasn’t been cut in over a decade, and the budget eliminates some of the raids and one-shots that hurt the environment. There is a need to have adequate funding for programs that protect our clean air, our drinking water, and clean up our toxic sites. Given the coronavirus and the budget shortfall, having this money restored is a step forward for the environment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This budget is a step in the right direction, but we need to do more. DEP staffing is down to the lowest levels and it has been cut year after year. We’re still a long way from where we need to be.”
The direct state services for the Department of Environmental Protection is $181,490,000, up from $159,496 in Governor Murphy’s proposed budget. The DEP appropriations also include $759,000 for grants-in-aid, $8,585,000 for state aid, and $117,420,000 for capital construction. The Language Changes between the Governor’s Revised Budget and Legislation restores the $12 million that would have been taken from the Recycling Trust Fund and the $10 million for the Clean Communities Fund for Parks Management.
“The cuts to DEP’s operational budget have been restored and there’s more money coming in. This is the first time that there is more money going into Direct State Services in a couple of years. There is more money for parks, and they restored $22 million for the Recycling and Clean Communities Trust Funds. This will help deal with plastic pollution and implement the statewide plastic bag ban. The budget also restored $10 million for removing lead paint from homes. NJ Transit saw an increase as well,” said Tittel. “There will also be more money for programs like open space, parks, cleaning up underground storage containers and contaminated sites, and watershed protection. This is because the Corporate Business Tax is increasing, and 6% of the CBT is dedicated to environmental programs.”
NJ Transit’s budget, which was originally cut by $31 million, has increased by $600 million. The Lead Abatement Program has been restored back to its original $20 million. However, a total of $40 million is still being taken from the Clean Energy Fund and the budget drops funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Programs from $80 million to $60 million.
“By signing this budget, Governor Murphy has finally given the environment a break. This budget will help make sure DEP has the funds for personnel and resources to protect our environment and our health. DEP needs to get more funding restored because staffing is down to low levels and a lot of programs are barely getting by. They also need to implement new programs like the PACT rules for climate change, resiliency, greenhouse gas reduction, and implementing the new Environmental Justice law,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This budget has been an improvement for the environment and the people of New Jersey, but there is a long way to go. We need to be increasing funding in key environmental programs, not keeping them the same or cutting them. We need to be investing in the environment because that is an investment in ourselves and our future.”