Measure Intended to Curb Waste, Abuse of State, Federal Weatherization Funding
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Sandra Bolden Cunningham which would codify responsible contractor requirements to ensure against waste and abuse in the State’s Weatherization Assistance Program for homeowners was approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“New Jersey’s weatherization assistance program is a win-win, allowing low-income homeowners an opportunity to make their homes energy and heat-efficient while giving low-income individuals in distressed communities – oftentimes minorities – an opportunity to learn a new trade and earn a living,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “However, while New Jersey has lived up to the first goal of the weatherization program, we haven’t done enough in the job training and employment aspects of the program. This bill would make sure that we get back on track when it comes to the intent of the weatherization program, which is to help people prepare for cold weather and to put New Jersey residents back to work.”
The bill, S-2618, would codify “responsible contractor” requirements for contractors bidding for work through the State Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Under the bill, contractors would be required to certify that half of the individuals working on a weatherization job had completed a weatherization training program designed to help low-income individuals living in distressed neighborhoods find work in the weatherization field. The bill would ensure that New Jersey is living up to the intentions of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the enabling law which made weatherization funds available to the states to help put out-of-work Americans back to work.
“Because New Jersey hasn’t strictly followed the training and employment components of the ARRA-funded weatherization program, we’re only seeing half the benefit,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “As a result, contractors are completing weatherization work without the employment and job training functions intended in the original federal law. By requiring contractors to follow ‘responsible’ standards, we can make sure that the full promise of the ARRA-funded weatherization program is being met.”
The bill was released from committee with a vote of 4-0-1. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.