THIS WEEK IN TRENTON – Public Strategies Impact

May 10, 2009

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May 8, 2009

Budget Shortfall Increases
The Office of Legislative Services released a report this week that indicated the budget shortfall in the current fiscal year has grown to $1.2 billion, almost triple the $383 million shortfall OLS predicted when the Legislature’s budget hearings began in April. The OLS prediction was made based on April income tax collections that were about $800 million less than expected. Initial predictions on income taxes were that they would be about 17% less this April as compared to April of 2008. They were actually more than 40% less.

The OLS memo also expresses concern that the budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2010 may “exceed, perhaps significantly” the $2 billion deficit the Governor estimated just last week.

After meeting with Governor Corzine and Senate President Richard Codey to discuss the budget, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts said, “This began as a dreadful budget year and unfortunately it’s only getting worse and worse.” Roberts went on to say that all potential solutions are on the table for discussion.

Corzine Signs Legislation Reforming Clean Up of Contaminated Sites
Governor Corzine signed legislation, A2962/S1897, to reform the clean-up of contaminated sites. The Governor also issued an Executive Order to provide oversight, accountability and transparency to the new law.

The new law establishes a licensed site remediation professional (LSRP) program designed to revamp toxic site cleanups throughout New Jersey . Under the program, a Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board will oversee the licensing, continuing education and professional conduct of site remediation professionals. The law also establishes standards for the education, training and experience to be required of a licensed site remediation professional and requires the board to develop license requirements and procedures, examinations and continuing education requirements.

The Executive Order establishes additional oversight and transparency on projects of significance, such as sites that may be redeveloped for housing, schools, playgrounds, child care centers as well as sites where groundwater has been impacted by pollutants above remediation standards. The Executive Order also calls for every report submitted by licensed site remediation professionals to be posted online once such an internet site is established.

Legislative Action
This week both houses of the Legislature returned to Trenton . The Senate held Group 1 and 2 Committee meetings on May 4 and Group 3 and 4 Committee meetings on May 7. The Assembly held Group A and B Committee meetings on May 7. The Assembly Budget Committee reviewed the budgets of the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Community Affairs on May 5 and reviewed the budgets of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Corrections and the State Parole Board on May 7. Next week the Senate will hold Group 4 and 3 Committee meetings on May 14 and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will review the budgets of the Department of Transportation, NJ Transit, the Motor Vehicle Commission and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development on May 11 and will review the budgets of the Department of Children and Families and Banking and Insurance on May 14. The Assembly will hold Group C and D Committee meetings on May 11 and the Assembly Budget Committee will review the budgets of the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, the Department of Banking and Insurance and the Department of Agriculture on May 12 and will review the budgets of the Judiciary, the Department of State and the Department of the Public Advocate on May 14.

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