TRENTON – As New Jersey struggles to rebound from the economic recession, a resolution, sponsored by Senators Kevin O’Toole and Nellie Pou, encouraging the federal government to waive a federal provision requiring New Jersey to foot a minimum of 25 percent of Hurricane Sandy cleanup – which would save the state more than $7 billion – was approved today by the full Senate.
“New Jerseyans continue paying a substantially high investment in America, while receiving a proportionately low return, as other states reap more benefits,” said Senator O’Toole, R-Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic. “Now, far too many New Jersey residents remain displaced from their homes and businesses, as communities try desperately to rebuild. It is only right for the federal government to repay New Jersey all necessary funds to fully recover from our worst natural disaster.”
“The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is still being felt across New Jersey, as many people remain out of their homes,” said Pou, D-Passaic and Bergen. “We are looking at approximately $30 billion in damage to the state. Even paying a small percentage of that would have a burdensome impact on New Jersey taxpayers. During these difficult times, raising taxes on New Jersey’s working families is not an option and neither is reducing aid for education, health care or other much needed services. The federal government should step in with their greater resources and provide relief. After all, we are all in this together.”
The concurrent resolution, SCR-133, would urge the federal government to pay 100 percent of the essential assistance necessary to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, rather than the 75 percent mandated by the federal Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The Stafford Act triggers, upon a Presidential declaration of emergency, certain financial and physical assistance to communities and states affected by the emergency. The provisions of the Stafford Act require that a minimum of 75 percent of all costs associated with cleanup are covered by federal funds.
According to Reuters, the federal government picked up 100 percent of some state’s clean up costs after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
The Senators note that New Jersey pays substantially more in federal taxes than is returned to the state in funding, typically receiving only 62 cents for every dollar sent to Washington. Because of this great disparity and the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Senator Pou believes that additional resources must come from the federal government.
The resolution now heads to the Assembly. If approved by both houses, the resolution will be sent to New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, the Director of the FEMA W. Craig Fugate, and President Obama.