Spotlight Podcast: Diverting Environmental Funds

In an effort to balance the budget without raising taxes, the Christie administration has made a practice of diverting funds from environmental projects

It is no secret that New Jersey’s fiscal situation is in dire straits. Sky-high property taxes, a crushing obligation to pay health and pension costs for public employees, and an administration unyielding in its opposition to imposing new taxes all contribute to a squeeze on how to balance the state budget.

As NJ Spotlight’s Tom Johnson discusses with Josh Simeone of NewsWorks/WHYY, the Christie administration has resorted, in part, to diverting funds from key programs, all of which have failed to spend previous appropriations targeted by lawmakers to finance various environmental initiatives. Those diversions, however, are generating protests from lawmakers and clean energy advocates.

As this week’s presents, the administration’s proposed fiscal year 2013 budget, the spending plan it has recommended to the Democratic-controlled legislature suggests diverting nearly $20 million in funds targeted to closing abandoned garbage dumps, cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and preventing pollution from manufacturing sites, among other things.