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Did Bob Martin Pull a Schundler?

Yesterday, emphasizing “tough choices”, Governor Christie said in his Budget Address to the Legislature that the DEP budget was cut by 10%:

In total, spending will be down by 2.6% versus last year. Down for the second year in a row. Many departments, indeed most departments, will have a cut.

• Department of Community Affairs, down 1.6%
• Department of Agriculture, down 1%
• Department of Corrections, down 2%
• Department of Environmental Protection, down 10%

I went with the Governor’s statement and wrote Christie Budget Slashes DEP by 10% – Subsidies to Polluters; More Burden on Taxpayers

But less than an hour later, DEP Commissioner Martin circulated an email to DEP staff that directly contradicted the Governor’s basic message and said that DEP’s budget had INCREASED by 5.3%:

 >>> Commissioner 2/22/2011 3:56:02 PM >>>

The Governor’s budget for Fiscal Year 2012 is all good news for the DEP. Due entirely to savings on DEP’s debt service through bond refunding, interest earnings and cost-cutting, you may have heard relative to Governor Christie’s budget address this afternoon that the DEP budget is being cut by 9.8%.  These savings on debt service do not affect any projects, programs, staffing or operations.  In fact, DEP funding excluding debt service is up 5.3%, from $329.2 million to $346.9 million

DEP also is receiving a major bump in CBT (corporate business tax) money–a more than $17 million increase over last year.  FY12 increases are:

  • Watershed Management  $2.6 million
  • Site Remediation Program Administration  $1.5 million
  • Grants in Aid-Diesel Retrofits  $2.9 million
  • Capital-Parks Development  $2.6 million
  • Capital-Site Remediation  $3.3 million
  • Capital-EDA Brownfields (HDSRF) and UST $4.3 million
    TOTAL  =  $17,415,000

So how did that happen? Did Martin pull a Schundler?

Did Martin smoke the Front Office into thinking his DEP budget was cut?

Or did Christie knowingly mislead the Legislature and the public that DEP’s budget had been cut 10%, when in fact it effectively increased 5.3%?

Or is the Governor so detached from the substance of governing that he doesn’t know the difference between debt service and an operating budget?

Or is it just politically taboo in conservative Republican circles to support DEP and environmental protection?

My guess, is that the Governor wants it both ways and was again spinning the facts – this time to create a false impression that DEP was cut because that is the Republican line in Washington and he wants to remain politically viable at the national level.

Wingnut control of the Republican party makes attacks on the environment a litmus test. 

The same logic explains the Governor’s global warming denial comments – he so wants to remain in good stead with the wingnuts running the Republican party, that he’s willing to say anything.

I don’t like to mislead my readers and I get pissed off when I am mislead.

I’ve also worked at DEP and briefed the Front Office – and I’ve never seen a “mistake” anywhere near this magnitude. I almost got  fired for a miscommunication with McGreevey (not my mistake) that doesn’t even come close to this.

If I were a real reporter and wrote the wrong story, I’d sure as hell starting asking a few questions.

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