Tag Archive: Sandy

#SciencePolicyFriday: New Jersey Science Policy Roundup

SciPoliFri_Box.gifThis week’s column is a collection of interesting articles from across various science and technology policy spectrums, from state-wide energy system changes to environmental sustainability designs and more! Stay informed and let us know what topics you’d like us to cover in our next few columns.  Perhaps you’d like to hear about autonomous vehicles, bio pharmaceuticals, climate change adaptation along the Jersey Shore? Let us know and have a great weekend! 

Thanks to my science and environment intern Arcadia Lee for research and drafting this article. Thank you to NJ Spotlight and NJ.com for their continued coverage of these important issues to the state of New Jersey. Cross-posted at www.DanBenson.com

NJ Energy Policy

Critics of Energy Master Plan Make Opinions Heard at Public Hearing – NJ Spotlight

The NJ Board of Public Utilities hosts the first of three public hearings on the Energy Master Plan

Bill Could Mean More Money to Small Businesses, Residents with Solar Panels – NJ Spotlight

“Christie signs law that increases cap on net metering, letting New Jersey residents earn more for electricity their solar panels produce.”

Power-Grid Operator PJM Hands Off High-Speed Transmission Project – NJ Spotlight

PJM moves to strengthen the reliability of southern NJ’s energy system with a project assigned to PSE&G, Pepco Holdings, Inc. and LS Power.

Power-Grid Operator Pledges to Work Closely With Natural-Gas Sector – NJ Spotlight

“PJM agreement seeks to ensure reliability as coal-fired plants are phased out and more gas-fired units are built.”

More on Tech Policy and Environmental Policy below.

What Christie’s presidential aspirations mean for New Jersey on the national stage

More great diary rescue from the weekend, also by josef. This time, on the impact our bellowing presidential wannabe might have on New Jersey's street cred with the rest of the country. Promoted by Rosi.

A Sunday thought piece appears on NJ.com today titled “What will Christie's 2016 run mean for N.J.?” In it, Matt Friedman wonders aloud how the state will go on after a Tuesday that will see Christie will finally declaring his candidacy for president. He brings up interesting points about how state Republicans have been distancing themselves from an increasingly unpopular governor whose approval rating is currently hovering around 30 percent and how a number of Democrats are lining up to succeed him now that they feel comfortable working against him. But the bigger question of how New Jersey will be represented on the national stage by candidate Christie goes unasked. If the governor keeps to his trademark style, the answer is “not well.”

Housing Investments Create Opportunities for All: Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget

This is the 4th in our 7-week series Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget with Anti-Poverty Network. Arnold is Senior Policy Coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network (HCDNNJ). Look for posts every Mon & Wed around Noon. Promoted by Rosi.

Rethink the 2016 NJ BudgetThe most densely populated state in the nation is also the most economically diverse. New Jersey is home to some of the wealthiest places as well as some of the poorest. The problem we’re experiencing is that due to our slow economic recovery, the foreclosure crisis, and Superstorm Sandy, a growing number of our residents are finding themselves among the working poor. Sadly, the State isn’t making the crucial investments needed to create more affordable home opportunities.

unnamedNew Jersey has an imbalanced housing market. Luxury rentals and McMansions are plentiful but more modest affordable rentals and starter homes are few and far between. As housing costs outpace wages, demand for affordable homes is soaring, but we are faced with a housing crisis because housing production dollars are being diverted and we are underinvesting in assistance for those who need it.  

The State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) assists very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe housing. In recent years however, the number of SRAP vouchers have declined due to under-investment despite the increased need. In order to address the housing needs of extremely low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities, SRAP must be funded at a level that will provide the full 5,000 vouchers funded in fiscal year 2011. In addition, Governor Christie has used dollars from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund – which is intended for housing production – to fund SRAP. This has left no money from the State’s fund, which is dedicated for affordable housing to rehabilitate or build new homes low income people can afford. We need to free up money for housing production by funding at least half of SRAP from either the General Fund or a dedicated funding stream to meet a demand that has surpassed supply.

Jim Keady running for Assembly, not likely to sit down – or shut up

Jim Keady is running for a seat in the NJ Assembly, and will have the backing of Monmouth Democrats, in a district that also includes Ocean County towns. It’s an uphill race, Democrats are in the minority in the 30th District where Republicans Sean Kean and Dave Rible are incumbents. But Monmouth Dems, under Chair Vin Gopal, are growing and Keady – who grew up in LD30’s Belmar, once sat on neighboring Asbury Park’s council, and returned to Belmar both to volunteer and to tangle with Gov. Christie – is not an unknown quantity in the shore towns.

If you want to track Chris Christie’s sinking poll numbers, and the serious bobble of his once-meteoric rise to the top of the GOP 2016 pack, one marker to look at is this moment last October – the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Sandy – when he told a heckler to “sit down and shut up.” That was Keady. It made national news, putting Christie in a negative light and spurring articles reexamining his actual Sandy recovery record, just as the chatter for the 2016 White House ramped up.  

New Jersey’s Youngest Outcasts

“There used to be homeless prevention programs where emergency money was provided to families who lost their jobs or didn’t have jobs to keep them in their homes. This administration hasn’t refunded them, renewed them or refreshed them.”

– NJ Citizen Action Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye

Our state has traditionally done a good job in coping with child homelessness. Such is reflected in our composite ranking of #5 among other states from the November Report Card on Child Homelessness issued by the National Center on Family Homelessness. Data from federal and other sources, however, tend to lag so the most recent information in the report covers 2012-2013 when we had 16,982 homeless children, substantially up from 10,986 in 2010-2011. Christie administration budget cuts reflected in the comment above provide reason to suspect that matters may not have improved.

The problem in our state became serious after the Great Recession as the number of foreclosures started to increase, and it grew more severe following Sandy. While nationally the worst of the foreclosure crisis has passed, NJ leads the nation in the rate of foreclosures started during the third quarter. As a result “Thousands of children are being shuffled from one school to another because they don’t have a permanent place in which to live.” Then the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, as reported by First Focus Campaign for Children, contributed to a record number of homeless children in New Jersey that academic year, with nearly 8,700 students temporarily living in shelters, motels, or doubling up with family and friends.

The Report Card on Child Homelessness (Page 53) notes NJ’s problem areas:

*15% of children are in poverty.

* 5.1% are without health insurance.

* High cost of housing: $24.84/hr is needed for a 2-bedroom apartment and 32% of households are paying more than 50% of income for rent.

* No State planning effort that includes children and families.

Governor Christie has acted like Scrooge did toward children with his state budget and has fought against the key recommendation of the national center: to provide more safe and affordable housing. For additional recommendations, go here, starting on page 84.