Assemblyman Says Settlement Funds Should Cover Legal Fees, Remediation and Restoration Efforts & Grants to Local Governments, Nonprofits
(TRENTON) – Assembly Environmental Chair Timothy Eustace released the following statement regarding the Governor’s line item veto of budget language that would have secured half of any environmental settlement for municipalities to use for legal service fees, and for funding local governments and non-profit organizations to perform environmental clean-up projects:
“The Governor’s line item veto maintains the state’s ability to divert all environmental settlements to the General fund leaving municipalities and taxpayers strapped with the costs of remediation and restoration of hazardous sites.
“Striking down a concern critically important to taxpayers and municipalities is not surprising under this administration; however, this was a chance to do what is right by the citizens of New Jersey, especially those living near affected areas.
“This was an opportunity to guarantee monies for the Hazardous Discharge Site Cleanup Fund, and to protect municipalities and residents. The veto only protects the General Fund and does not take into consideration any obstacles towns or taxpayers may be facing to clean up the state’s most toxic environmental sites.
“The purpose of these settlements is not to fill gaps in the budget. The state’s ability to continue to take funds without limit is reckless.
“In November, voters will take to the polls to stop the raiding and misuse of settlement funds in the future. When voters approve the special environmental ballot question, the constitution will be amended to dedicate, not just half but, all monies received from environmental settlements and awards to repairing, restoring or permanently protecting the state’s natural resources.
“Protecting and preserving the state’s natural resources for future generations is our responsibility. It’s unfortunate this administration has not taken that more seriously.”
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 127 was filed with the Secretary of State last December. It received overwhelming approval by both the Assembly and the Senate.