TRENTON – As New Jersey struggles to rebound from the economic recession, a resolution sponsored by Senator 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 – saving the state more than $7 billion – was unanimously approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“Hurricane Sandy was one of the worst storms to ever hit New Jersey’s shores and the financial impact could be upwards of $30 billion,” said Senator Pou, D-Passaic and Bergen. “Even only paying 25 percent of the costs could have a massive effect on our state’s finances and since the state is required to balance our budget each year, these funds will have to come from somewhere. 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. As state and local governments continue to recover from the recession, we cannot ask our taxpayers to carry this burden. Instead, the federal government should step in with their greater resources and provide relief.”
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.
Senator Pou notes 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 full Senate for consideration. 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.