Bill S 495, which would provide $150,000 in funding for Lake Hopatcong, was not moved out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee on Monday, according to an article on PolitickerNJ.
The article said state Democrats held the bill because they understood that Gov. Chris Christie would veto any spending bill that came across his desk that unless there was a proposal to cut spending.
“The Governor was very unambiguous,” Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) said to PolitickerNJ. “He didn’t leave any opening here.”
The bill, which originally appropriated $400,000 for lake maintenance, was amended to $150,000 during the committee’s meeting, but still couldn’t make it out of committee.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, told PolitickerNJ he supported the measure, but added the governor “took this committee to task and took its members to task.”
Bucco said that he wanted the $15,0,000 to keep this lake pristine," He called it “very immature” to make the proposal a partisan issue, saying the lake and surrounding area ultimately generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
Lake Hopatcong resident and advocate Tim Clancy, was also disappointed with the decision.
“This is just a silly political game, where everyone is so buy poking the other side that nothing ever gets done,” Clancy said.
He also believes this is too small of an amount.
“$150,000? Why bother,” Clancy said. “The fact is, if the governor wanted funding for Lake Hopatcong he could walk down the hall and tell his DEP director to make it happen. That wouldn’t even swing the meter for the DEP.”
Clancy sees the only viable option as a user fee.
“The only viable solution, and it will come one day, hopefully before it's too late, is implementation of a user fee so that the lake is not at the mercy of the shifting political winds. I go fishing; I buy a fishing license, golfers pay tee fees, beach goers buy beach passes, but we expect good fishing, well maintained courses and safe and clean beaches. What is so hard to understand about that concept? At least with a user fee we would finally be in charge of our own destiny,” he said. “It is sad to say but I think we have to sink further and the lake's environment will have to suffer tremendously before we get to the only viable funding solution.”
Lake Hopatcong Commission chairman Russell Felter was not available to comment for this story.