Despite Plush Times and an Emergency, Governor Murphy's Budget Underinvests in a Livable Climate Future

Thursday, June 30, 2022
trenton creative commons image by mtstradling.jpg

Breaking– SCOTUS 10 am ruling that guts federal action on climate makes State budget corrections now even more critical

Cranford, NJ – Clean Water Action released the following statement as Governor Murphy signed the FY 2023 budget today.

As New Jersey makes historic and much needed investments in housing, affordability, and education, we also need to adopt a budget approach that reflects the Governor's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases 50% by 2030. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this budget and the worst impacts of the climate emergency are even more likely to become our New Jersey children’s future as a result.

This budget continues the decades long trend of drastically underfunding the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and raids on the Clean Energy Fund and NJ Transit totaling over $2 billion. It misses the opportunity to make historic investments in the environment and our most vulnerable communities despite unprecedented flush coffers.

DEP’s core operating budget (Direct State Services) has remained flat since 2005 hovering around $250-270 million/yr. Accounting for inflation ($251 million in 2005 is worth $367 million today), that is a 25-30% in 2022 dollars and DEP’s staff has been cut by 21% (3437 FTEs in 2005 to 2722 in 2022). While the state’s budget has increased 40% during the Murphy years, the DEP continues to have to beg for cash. This has real consequences.

No wonder DEP is years behind on meeting Murphy self-imposed critical deadlines, e.g., completing and implementing rules for climate pollution reduction, environmental justice, and better protecting people and property from flooding.

Meanwhile, NJ Transit and the Clean Energy Fund continue to be the victims of budget gimmicks. Why are we moving money from clean energy to mass transit, underfunding both, rather than properly funding both? It is not as if the state does not have the money right now to do what needs to be done.

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Since the organization’s founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking, and people power to the table.

Eric Benson
Amy Goldsmith